What is the History Behind Bingo Numbers?
Why bingo numbers are important to players
Bingo numbers are integral to winning any of our popular bingo games at Wink Bingo and, indeed, any other bingo room or hall. Without these magic numbers, we would have no game. Some players have affiliation with numbers that helped them win big in the past.
If you have several bingo numbers that mean more to you than others, you might be intrigued to know about the history of their calls too. Bingo calls were introduced in the early 20th century and, by the 1950s, these number nicknames have become synonymous with the game, helping to make it more entertaining with a hilarious fusion of innuendo and puns.
The key to most bingo calls is that they rhyme with the number. The rhyme helps to make the numbers more memorable for players. Some of the bingo calls are also based on the shape of the numbers, with the references bearing a clear resemblance.
The history of the most popular bingo calling numbers
• 7 (Lucky Seven)
In various countries, the number seven is considered a lucky number. In South Korea, it is a lucky number to bet on, just like it is in western countries. Lucky number seven comes from the table game of Craps, where rolling a seven is needed for winning pass line bets.
• 9 (Doctor’s Orders)
There is more than a hint of history behind the use of this nickname. The number nine was the name of a laxative tablet administered to soldiers throughout World War II. Granted, it doesn’t conjure up the best of mental images!
• 10 (Boris’s Den)
For decades, this bingo call for number ten has included the name of whoever is the Prime Minister at the time, i.e. residing at Number 10 Downing Street. For now, at least, 10 Downing Street is very much Mr. Johnson’s den.
• 11 (Legs Eleven)
The first of the bingo calls where the nickname is based on the shape of the number. Close your eyes and imagine the number 11 and it’s easy to see them resembling a pair of legs. The crowd will often wolf whistle in response to the bingo caller whenever this number is drawn.
• 18 (Coming of Age)
This call is another nod to the traditions of everyday life, with 18 considered the age when a teenager ‘comes of age’ and becomes a fully-fledged adult. We should also nod to the number 16, which has a call of ‘never been kissed’, based on the lyrics of ‘Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed’ by the Blue Mountaineers.
• 20 (One Score)
One score is an old phrase used to describe the number 20. It is a saying that was referenced in Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’. Some callers like to use this term to call multiples of 20 e.g. ‘two-score’ for 40 and ‘three-score for 60’.
• 22 (Two Little Ducks)
Like legs eleven, this phrase is another description that references the look of the numbers. 22 resembles two little ducks floating across a pond. 22 has also been called ‘Desmond’ in the past as a homage to South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu.
• 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd)
This is a religious and historical reference to the number 23. These words are the first line of Psalm 23 of the Old Testament. This psalm is one of the best-known universally for its trust and faith in God.
• 30 (Burlington Bertie)
The phrase ‘Burlington Bertie’ is taken from an early 20th-century parody which features the line ‘I’m Burlington Bertie, I rise at ten-thirty’. There was also a music hall song written during the turn of the 1900s of the same name.
• 55 (All the Fives)
This is one of the longest-standing phrases used by bingo callers throughout the years. It’s not only used for the number 55 either. You’ll often hear them say ‘all the threes, 33’ and ‘all the fours, 44’ too. Nevertheless, it’s one of the easiest calls to grasp for bingo beginners.
• 76 (Was She Worth It?)
There is a healthy dose of history behind the call of number 76. Bingo callers shout ‘Was she worth it?’ to the audience, referencing the pre-decimal price of a marriage licence in the UK (formerly 7/6d). In terms of player interaction, they will often shout ‘every penny’ back to the callers!
• 77 (Sunset Strip)
The use of Sunset Strip is another homage to popular culture, the hit 1960s TV series ’77 Sunset Strip’. Those familiar with the show will often sing the theme tune back to the caller from the tables!
• 88 (Two Fat Ladies)
Arguably the most famous bingo number call is at the bottom of our list – number 88. ‘Two fat ladies’ is used to reference and characterise this number, which is active in all our 90-ball games.
Traditional Vs modern-day bingo numbers
There have been examples in more recent times where bingo callers have attempted to alter their number calls to make them more relevant to a younger audience. In 2003, holiday camps at Butlins started to use new calls such as ‘J-Lo’s bum’ for 71, ‘Jimmy Choo’ for 32, as callers do their best to make the game of bingo more relatable to players of all ages.
Wind the clock on to the present day and it would appear these ‘new-age’ bingo calls have failed to stand the test of time, with tradition still the order of the day in bingo halls and online right here at Wink Bingo.