Query - Walk and Chew Gum

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 2 21:59:44 UTC 2004

On Mon, 2 Feb 2004, Kathleen E. Miller wrote:

> As I remember Ford fell down a lot, hit people in the head with wayward
> golf swings, etc. and he comes to mind when I think of the phrase, "walk
> and chew gum at the same time." Anybody know the origin?

Richard Reeves, _A Ford, Not a Lincoln_ (1975), quoted Lyndon Johnson
about Ford: "So dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time."  I
always thought "walk and chew gum at the same time" was a euphemism for
Johnson's comment about Ford.  However, a search on ProQuest brings up the

1970 _Wash. Post_ 24 Nov. A17  As for Mr. Nixon's assertion that much of
our economic trouble is due to a cut in defense spending, one of the
economists present remarked, "That's like saying we aren't smart enough to
walk and chew gum at the same time."

Even earlier, Newspaperarchive.com has:

1967 _Lethbridge_ (Alberta) _Herald_ 8 Apr.  The office wit says he'll
never take his wife skiing again ... he says she's so uncoordinated that
she can't even walk and chew gum at the same time.

It could still be that the Johnson comment is the origin, if it reliably
dates from before 1967.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com

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