Domino Effect

This month at least two hundred Texans will converge on Hallettsville for the state championship of straight dominoes. The outcome is unpredictable, but one fact is not: Chances are that every player will tote a set of bones made by Waco-based Puremco, the only manufacturer of plastic dominoes outside mainland China. Puremco was launched in 1954 by George Purvis, now 78, whose original Rube Goldberg–style machines still mix the heavy polyester vinyl resin with a chemical that causes it to harden and then slice, polish, drill, and paint the tiles. The company sells about 100,000 sets a year—and not just plain ones: Some feature the best-selling bluebonnet and Aggie motifs, others are personalized (“Memaw & Papaw”), and still more are custom jobs for the likes of Dr Pepper, Justin Boots, and country singer George Strait. Sales manager Scott Pitzer credits snowbirds and “RV spread” with popularizing the game up north but maintains that Texas is the “epicenter” of dominoes. “It’s played everywhere from beer joints to Baptist churches,” he says. “It’s a game about food, fellowship, and fun.”

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