Eating Crow (1850, 1880)--Has the story in its entirety been spotted previously?

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon Jun 23 01:23:29 UTC 2003

     The 1850 and 1880 information which Barry spotted is very
interesting, being fully developed stories (rather than just  brief
references to the existence of the story). My main question now is
whether anyone else has located the full story. Or does Barry's
message flesh out the story which lexicographers knew existed without
actually having in its entirety?

    OED (_crow_ n. #1) gives an 1851 attestation of the punch line in
the "eat (a) crow" story: 1851 San Francisco Picayune 3 Dec. 1/6, I
kin eat a crow, but I'll be darned if I hanker after it.

        Let's see if the _San Francisco Picayune_ presents the whole story.

Gerald Cohen

At 3:33 PM -0400 6/22/03, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>Date:         Sun, 22 Jun 2003 15:33:52 -0400
>From: Bapopik at AOL.COM
>Subject:      Eating Crow (1850, 1880)
>Comments: cc: ASMITH1946 at
>    I've found notes about this in several newspapers in 1880.
>Clearly, an important dish of American food.
>    From the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8 June 1880, pg. 4, col. 5:
>       _EATING CROW_
>    The politics of "eating crow" is in the application of the
>original story to people who swallow a disagreeable candidate of
>their own party rather than vote for the candidate oftheir opponent.
>(...)  The following story explains how that peculiar diet came into
>    The first allusion to "eating crow" was made in the
>_Knickerbocker Magazine_ a little more than a quarter of a century
>ago.  It was a story of a summer boarding-house-keeper on the Hudson
>and of an indignant patron.  Whenever the latter ventured to suggest
>that the spring chicken was rather tough, or that the roast beef
>must have been cut from the cow's beefs, he was directly told that
>he was entirely "too perticeler," and that the autocrat of the table
>and the house could eat anything, even a crow.  This settled the
>matter for the time being, but the boarder convinced against his
>will was of the same opinion, still, at all events, in regard to the
>quality of the edibles placed before him.  So often was the remark,
>"I kin eat anything; I kin eat a crow," brought down on his devoted
>head that he finally resolved to try the old man.  He went out
>gunning one day and succeeded in bagging a very fine, fat, old black
>crow.  He went into the kitchen, and, by dint of soft words and
>filthy lucre, induced the cook to allow him to prepare the crow for
>the table.  He boiled it nicely, and it wasn't such a bad-looking
>dish after all.  His heart misgave him; the flinty old cuss would
>eat it after all.  The cook was a Scotch woman, and used snuff.  He
>borrowed all she had and sprinkled it liberally over the crow, gave
>her another simmer, and then, taking it on a salver, brought it
>before his host, saying as he set it down, "Now, my dear sir, you
>have said a thousand times, if you have said it once, that you can
>eat crow.  Here is one very carefully cooked."  It is said the old
>man turned pale for a moment, but braced himself against the back of
>his chair, and with "I kin eat crow," he began, cutting a good
>mouthful.  He swallowed it, and then, preparing for a second
>onslaught, he looked his boarder straight in the eye, while he
>ejaculated, "I've eaten crow," and took his second portion.  He
>lifted his hands mechanically, as if for a third onslaught, but
>dropped them quickly over the region of his stomach, and, rising
>hurriedly and unsteadily, retreated for the door, muttering as he
>went, "but dang me if I hanker arter it."
>KNICKERBOCKER, but has it here:
>Saturday Evening Post (1839-1885), Philadelphia; Nov 2, 1850; Vol.
>VOLUME XXX., Iss. 0
>Article 15 -- No Title; pg. 0_004, 1 pgs:
>    CAN YOU EAT CROW?--Lake Mahopac was so much crowded, the past
>season, or, rather, the hotels in its immediate vicinity were, that
>the farm-houses were filled with visitors.  One of the worthy
>farmers residing there, it appears, was especially worried to death
>by _bored_ers.--They found fault with his table--this thing was bad
>and wasn't fit to eat--and at last the old fellow got so tired of
>trying to please them, that he undertook as the last resource to
>reason the matter with them.
>    "Darn it," said old Isaac, one day, "what a fuss you're making; I
>can eat anything."
>    "Can you eat crow?" said one of his young boarders.
>    "Yes, I kin eat crow."
>    "Bet you a hat," said his guest.
>    The bet was made, a crow caught and nicely roasted, but before
>serving up, they contrived to season it with a good dose of Scotch
>    Isaac sat down to the crow.  He took a good bite, and began to
>chew away.  "Yes," he said, "I kin eat crow (_another bite and awful
>face,_) I kin eat crow, (_symptoms of nausea,_) I kin eat crow; but
>I'll be darned if I hanker arter it."--Isaac bolted.

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