The pub quiz is a staple of British culture. From the smallest of microbreweries to the largest of pub chains with familiar names, all across the UK, you’re sure to find some form of quiz night.
We all know the scene, pub heaving with people of all ages shouting out answers (rarely correct) and mopping up drinks off of sticky tables with paper scorecards.
At The Big Fat Quiz Company, we know pub quizzes like no other. As one of London’s most popular quiz and drag bingo nights, we’ve seen it all.
Pub quizzes can bring people together just as easily as they can tear families and friendships apart. We’ve all been there, swearing that you’re 100% certain your answer is correct and being totally, unforgivably wrong; leading to the inevitable public shaming and eventual disowning.
The pub quiz is an inescapable part of our culture, but what are the secrets behind how it all began? Here at The Big Quiz Company, we’ve delved deeper into the secret history of the pub quiz…
(We suggest you take notes just in case this pops up in the next quiz and you get the chance to redeem yourself.)
The first pub quiz organisers are believed to have been a company called Burns and Porter. The pair distributed quizzes in the 1970s as a way to get patrons into pubs in the UK on quieter nights. Over the span of just a few years, the popularity of these nights grew from 30 teams playing each week to 10,000. Probably a bit more than they bargained for, but they made it work!
Burns and Porter, (or Sharon and Tom depending on how much of a regular you were) travelled across the country presenting their quizzes to breweries and pubs as a way to help them bring in more customers.
The BBC even turned to them for help finding contestants and questions for television quiz shows. Burns and Porter eventually published their own line of quiz books, cementing themselves as the original quiz nerds. Before they knew it, the quiz nights had a life of their own and started cropping up left right and centre with or without their participation.
Although they’re no longer an active company, Sharon Burns is rumoured to frequent charity quiz nights every now and then.
Of course, the original pub quiz is hotly debated, many contenders have cropped up with the potential of being the true creator of the pub quiz. Newspaper clippings and word of mouth suggest that the first pub quiz could have been as far back as the 1930s. So while we may never actually know the true origins of the pub quiz, it’s a bit ironic that it has a secret history that keeps us guessing.
According to a study in 2009, there are 22,445 regular pub quizzes in the UK and around 2,000 weekly in the US. So, it’s pretty obvious that Brits have always and will always love a quiz.
Whether you can admit it or not, all of us secretly want to be the smartest person in the room. The pub quiz presents the perfect opportunity to prove yourself in front of your mates, colleagues or parents (see, that university education really was worth it, Dad).
Even through lockdown, the pub quiz prevailed as people turned to it as a way to stay connected. The industry embraced new technologies to adapt and create virtual pub quizzes to meet this new demand and stay afloat during such a challenging time.
At The Big Fat Quiz Company, we’ve even embraced using a free app to host quizzes when paper and pen is not possible!
After all, we believe that all good quizzes start with fantastic Quiz Masters. Our hosts are there to keep you on your toes, ready to shout out your answers and laugh until you cry.
Our quiz nights are not like the rest. We’ve been entertaining this quiz-mad country for over 10 years. Why not come see for yourself?