Navy Bean (1856, 1857, 1862)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 31 16:16:33 UTC 2003

>    I'd posted "navy bean soup," but not "navy bean."
>    OED, under "navy," has a first citation of the 1897 SEARS ROEBUCK
>CATAL.  It's just that bad.  How's the revision?
>    Merriam-Webster has 1856.  I'm looking for that cite.  I might
>have to go back to my 1906 beans treatise where I found "pinto" so
>well described.
>    Elisha Kent Kane, ARCTIC EXPLORATION (1857)(Making of
>America-Michigan Books), pg. 94:
>    "First, coffee, great comforter to hard-worked men; one part of
>the genuine berry to three of navy beans;...
>    17 May 1862, SATURDAY EVENING POST (American Periodical Series), pg. 8:
>    Small white navy beans will be wanted.
So this was another one of those misanalyses from childhood that I've
never bothered to correct.  I always glossed this as [navy [bean
soup]], i.e. the kind of bean soup you get when you're in the navy,
when the evidence above (and in the rest of Barry's post) makes it
clear that it was [[navy bean] soup] all along.  For me, it was
always something I didn't select from a restaurant or cafeteria menu
so the misanalysis hasn't really affected my life, but it's nice to


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