The History of Candlepin Bowling

Have you ever wonder how candlepin bowling came to be? If you grew up in Massachusetts, then you know what Candlepin bowling is – but if you don’t, you’re probably wondering, what is “candlepin bowling, and how is it different from ten-pin bowling”?

There are plenty of notable differences between Candlepin bowling and ten-pin bowling. The main differences between the two are the sizes of both the balls and the pins, the shape of the pins – but even things like jargon, game strategy and how to keep score vary. These differences make Candlepin bowling much harder than tenpin. While it’s a type of bowling, candlepin bowling is just different!

How did Candlepin bowling become the thing here in Boston that we know and love today? Candlepin bowling has a deep-rooted history, and it started right here in Massachusetts! However, it did not start in Boston.

The Story of Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin bowling was invented in the 1880s in a local bowling center and billiards parlor in nearby Worcester. The owner of the parlor, Justin White, was said to be credited with the concept. Throughout the 1880s, Justin worked to get the dimensions of both the balls and pins – it took him a few times to get this just right.

While Justin White was deemed the “inventor” of candlepin bowling, John J. “Jack” Monsey was credited for standardizing the game and carrying it out to other towns in Massachusetts. Monsey created the “National Duckpin and Candlepin Congress”. The organization helped regulate the size of the balls and pins. The Candlepin Congress also helped create more leagues around the Worcester area.

Although Candlepin bowling is essentially a variation of tenpin, Candlepin bowling was said to be invented years before the standardization of the tenpin bowling, which was said to have been invented in 1895. The idea behind its origin is what makes it appealing today – it’s much more challenging than tenpin bowling.

So now you know the history of candlepin bowling! If you’ve never tried it, come into Flatbread and reserve a lane to experience it for yourself. Candlepin bowling is guaranteed fun for both children and adults.


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