The origins of pub quiz, from Britain and beyond!

Sure, you love pub quiz, but do you know where it originated?

Like many great things – The Beatles, Queen Elizabeth II, THE INTERNET – it comes from England. Sharon Burns and Tom Porter, known together as Burns and Porter, founded what we now know as the first bar trivia leagues in 1976. The pair wanted to come up with a way to up pub traffic on quiet nights, and it worked – what started out as a 32-team outing turned into a 10,000-squad effort by the ‘80s.

Original Pub Quiz

In its original form, Burns and Porter provided participating pubs with sealed envelopes containing that evening’s questions. At the end of the week, the duo collected each team’s results and updated the league’s standings. 

Now, obviously, the format is much looser, and with new technology comes an increasing number of way to play quizzo. Audio rounds, visual rounds, social media clues – they’re all part of a new wave of quizzes (and you can find all that and more at any of our weekly events). Even adding in a computer to add up scores in real time has changed the way we play pub quiz. 

Today, some studies have tallied over 25,000 weekly trivia events in the US and UK combined, though that number is constantly growing. Forty years after the first iteration of pub quiz, it’s evolved into one of the most popular (but still low-key) bar activities out there. We hope to see you out at one (or all) of our NJ trivia nights.