A brief but fascinating piece in The New York Times on how speed dating was invented:
At a matchmaking event he organized in 1998, Rabbi Yaacov Deyo brought along a gragger, the noisemaker Jews use during Purim. That night, in a Peet’s Coffee & Tea in Beverly Hills, the Orthodox rabbi twirled his gragger to signal when it was time for the single men and women present to switch partners and spark up a conversation with the next stranger. “We thought 10 minutes for each date, because that was just an easier number to use in a busy coffeehouse,” Deyo says. This entirely practical measure would inspire matchmakers all around the world — Jews and Gentiles alike.
Weeks before, Deyo invited a group of friends to convene in his living room and brainstorm about how he could best serve the local Jewish community. This being L.A., Deyo’s group included several entertainment-industry people, including someone who produced game shows. The rabbi and his think tank decided that Jewish singles needed to identify marriage partners with maximum efficiency, and they designed a wacky game in which participants would table-hop their way through a dozen dates in a night. Soon they began their experiment (under the auspices of American Friends of Aish HaTorah, the nonprofit group that employed Deyo), using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the singles and their responses on feedback cards. Within a year or so, the speed-dating idea had gone viral, with imitators around the country.
After he and his friends trademarked SpeedDating, they began the process of filing a patent. But as the trend exploded, Deyo realized he had lost control of the idea…
I hope this is a trivia question some day!
There’s a funny quote about Atlanta in the article.