Chew the Scenery; Derby Pie; Cream Pie/Cake

Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Sun Oct 6 20:06:26 UTC 2002

>    A NEW YORK TIMES story I spotted on the web (took forever to
> download, so I don't know the date) is "Anthony Hopkins Won't Chew
> the Scenery."  (Hannibal the Cannibal can't be considered with
> "American food," oh please, dear no!) The best discussion of "chew
> the scenery" is on the web site Mavens' Word of the Day, by those
> Random House people, whever they are.  Dorothy Parker's 1930 quip
> is mentioned. J. Brooks Atkinson, the TIMES drama critic, was a
> part of Dorothy Parker's circle.  However, full text of the NEW
> YORK TIMES doesn't show any early quote! FWIW, the earliest in the
> database looks like 26 June 1947, NEW YORK TIMES, pg. 19:

Having just answered a subscriber's question about this phrase (see
<>), I can temporarily
claim some small expertise. Professor Lighter cites an example from
1895 in RHHDAS, which proves that the expression is from the theatre,
not films.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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