"Yes, we have no bananas"

Jonathon Green slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK
Mon May 27 13:02:02 UTC 2002

It isn't included in Zwilling _TAD Lexicon_ (1993). Brewer's Modern Phrase
and Fable (2000) describes it as 'the memorable title of a song of 1923 by
Frank Silver and Irving Cohen, the latter of whom apparently heard the
remark from the lips of a Greek fruit seller. Punch, in its issue of 1
August 1923, described the title as "the latest catchword".' It was taken up
as a slogan by the banana importers/wholesalers Elders & Fyffes who sent
some 10,000 hands (bunches of five) bananas to music sellers.

I enclose the Silver & Irving lyrics:

There's a fruit store on our street
It's run by a Greek.
And he keeps good things to eat
But you should hear him speak!
When you ask him anything, he never answers "no".
He just "yes"es you to death, and as he takes your dough
He tells you
"Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today.
We've string beans, and onions
Cabashes, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato
But yes, we have no bananas.
We have no bananas today."

Business got so good for him that he wrote home today,
"Send me Pete and Nick and Jim; I need help right away."
When he got them in the store, there was fun, you bet.
Someone asked for "sparrow grass" and then the whole quartet
All answered
"Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today.
Just try those coconuts
Those wall-nuts and doughnuts
There ain't many nuts like they.
We'll sell you two kinds of red herring,
Dark brown, and ball-bearing.
But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today."

The new English "clark":
Yes, we are very sorry to inform you
That we are entirely out of the fruit in question
The afore-mentioned vegetable
Bearing the cognomen "Banana".
We might induce you to accept a substitute less desirable,
But that is not the policy at this internationally famous
   green grocery.
I should say not.  No no no no no no no.
But may we suggest that you sample our five o'clock tea
Which we feel certain will tempt your pallet?
However we regret that after a diligent search
Of the premises
By our entire staff
We can positively affirm without fear of contradiction
That our raspberries are delicious; really delicious
Very delicious
But we have no bananas today.

Yes, we gotta no banana
No banana
We gotta no banana today.
I sella you no banana.
Hey, Mary Anna, you gotta no banana?
Why this man, he no believe-a what I say.
Now whatta you want mister?
You wanna buy twelve for a quarter?
Yes, a quarter.
Well, just one look, I'm gonna call for my daughter.
Hey, Mary Anna
You gotta piana
Yes, banana, no
No, yes, no bananas today
We gotta no bananas.
Yes, we gotta no bananas today.

Jonathon Green

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