“What is the best pub trivia question ever?” – answered by Mark Adams, founder of Sporcle Live
Now that I’ve run a live trivia business for eleven years, I’ve learned that whenever someone asks what I do for a living, and I tell them, they often have the same question: “What is the best pub trivia question ever?”
Even though I’ve probably been asked that hundreds of times at this point, my answer is usually, “Wow, I’m not sure, let me think.”
Well, now that we’re all sitting on the sidelines due to the COVID-19 shutdown, I decided to once and for all determine what my favorite trivia question is. Now, I’m the first one to admit that I hate going to recipe sites and having to read about the family, favorite season, etc, of the person who created said recipe. Just give me the recipe for the biscuits! So, if you don’t want to hear me blabber here for a minute, go to the end of this, and I’ll tell you the question.
Here is my thought process:
1. To qualify as the best pub trivia question ever, the question should be one that got an entire team of players talking. For this to happen, I like to involve multiple categories in a single question. One player might be good with sports, while another is good with geography. So, a question about sports geography is always welcomed in my eyes. Spoiler – my favorite question will involve three categories at once! Oh, the suspense.
2. It can’t be something where “you know it, or you don’t.” You have to put some work into it, but it’s also apparent from the get-go that you could come to it if you have time.
For example, take this question: “Who was the Vice President of the United States under Benjamin Harrison?” It’s not one that you’re going to back into somehow (without cheating). Someone on your team may remember it was Levi Morton, but Joe or Jane Average-Trivia-Player won’t know it and instead will spend the next five minutes flagging down their server to get their check.
But a question like this, I like: “What is the only state capital that does not share any letters in common with the state in which it is the capital?” Most people on the team won’t know it right away, but I love seeing teams scramble for their pen to start writing down state capitals and states to figure it out. While this isn’t my favorite question of all time, it’s up there, so I’ll tell you the answer below.
3. There has to be a sense of accomplishment when you figure it out. It’s like getting a gold star from your teacher in grade school. There should be some high fives – I mean, elbow bumps – the second teams realize they got the right answer.
So, with that said, here it is, my favorite question we’ve ever asked at a Sporcle pub trivia event:
“There are two instances where the initials of a US President’s first and last name, the two-letter abbreviation of an element on the Periodic Table, and a US state’s official two-letter abbreviation all match. Name both instances.”
It meets all the criteria above (in my humble opinion). We asked this question at a Pub Champions Trivia League final back in 2012.
I hope you can figure it out! So that you don’t see the answer right away and have some time to think, here are some COVID-inspired trivia team names.
- Panic! at the Costco
- Billy Ray Virus
- Straight Outta TP
- Quinten Quarantino
- Covideo Killed the Radio Sars
- Corona with Lyme
- Quarantine, More Like Borantine
Want more? Check out: Trivia Team Names for Quarantine
The only state capital that doesn’t share any letters in common with the state in which it is the capital? Pierre, South Dakota. Nice try in attempting to convince yourself that Tempe was the capital of Arizona or that Juneau was spelled, Juno.
The two instances of presidents’ initials, elements, and state abbreviations? AL for Abraham Lincoln, Aluminum, and Alabama. CA for Chester Arthur, Calcium, and California.