The World of Trivial Pursuit

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jan 30, 2016

“I think I am a trivia nerd. I love to learn about everything. I’m curious.”
Adam Rodriguez

On December 15, 1979, Chris Haney, a photo editor at the Montreal Gazette, and Scott Abbott, a sports journalist for The Canadian Press, were playing a game of Scrabble when they decided to invent their own game, Trivial Pursuit. Who would have ever thought that their invention would become one of the world’s most famous board games selling over 100 million copies in 26 countries and in at least 17 languages, with estimated sales of $2 billion. More than 50 special editions have been created.

The original Trivial Pursuit had 6,000 questions on 1,000 cards, including “Who was Howdy Doody’s twin brother?” (Double Doody) and “What’s the largest diamond in the world?” (A baseball diamond).

Author Lynn Abbey confessed out loud what many of us think inside, “I’m always trolling for trivia.” 

So let’s troll. Here at the University of Valley Forge, Nurse Lauren shared this about “Our Crazy and Amazing Body.” A fingerprint has 40 features that are unique to you but a person’s iris (the colored part of the eye) has 266 features that are unique to you. All bones start out as cartilage. As you grow, a process of ossification turns the cartilage into hard bone. 

You normally shed 50-100 hairs per day. Hair grows about 5 inches per year. The color of hair comes from melanin, the same pigment that colors the skin. When people age, their hair follicles stop making melanin and hair turns white or gray.

Here are a few more I picked up along the way. When the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers play football at home, the stadium becomes the state’s third largest city. Thirty-three million Hershey Kisses are made each day. If you stretch a standard Slinky out flat it measures 87 feet long. Howdy Doody has exactly 48 freckles on his face. 

I enjoy “first facts” when I troll for trivia. For instance, television was first invented in the 1920s, 20 or more years after the U.S. Office of Patents is rumored to have said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” The first microwave oven was discovered when engineer Dr. Percy Spencer was working on magnetrons. He realized the microwave he was working with caused a candy bar in his pocket to melt. 

Did you know that Ruth Wakefield was known as the “mother of chocolate chips?” In 1930, Wakefield created the chips and chocolate chip cookies. At the time, she ran the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts, and her cookies were dubbed the Toll House Cookie.

Did you know that the potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum? Responding to a customer complaint that his fries were too thick, he eventually made fries too thin to eat with a fork. The customer was satisfied and potato chips were invented. 

And for those who would agree with Molly Harper who said, “The brain may die but my compulsion for trivia lives on,” here are some more. In 1963, baseball player Gaylord Perry remarked, “They’ll put a man on the moon before I hit a home run.” On July 20, 1969, a few hours after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Gaylord Perry hit his first (and only) home run. 

Thomas Edison, light bulb inventor, was afraid of the dark. What person, not a “Seinfeld” regular cast member, is featured on every episode of “Seinfeld?” Superman — either by name or depicted in photos on Jerry’s refrigerator. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.

And finally, TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made by using the letters on only one row of the keyboard. A snail can have about 25,000 teeth. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple. The average person’s left hand does 57 percent of the typing. 

So there you have it.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
Responses can be mailed to 
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