Fwd: Re: "jimmies" in Philadelphia

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jul 5 21:41:51 UTC 2004

from a by now virtual native speaker...

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To: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: "jimmies" in Philadelphia
Date: Mon, 05 Jul 2004 16:36:32 EDT
From: "Ellen F. Prince" <ellen at central.cis.upenn.edu>

>Do you know from jimmies in Philly?

That's what they're called here. That's the ONLY thing they're
called here. And that was what they were called when we moved
here in 1967. Some people seem to know the term sprinkles but
the ones I've discussed this with think sprinkles is only
for the multi-colored, non-chocolate kind.

I never knew they were also called jimmies in Boston. Live
and learn.


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>Date:         Mon, 5 Jul 2004 13:12:12 -0400
>Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>From: "Mark A. Mandel" <mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: "jimmies" in Philadelphia
>I wrote:
>>Just a few minutes ago, at a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop here in
>>Philadelphia, I ordered my ice cream with sprinkles, according to the option
>>shown on the menu.  Working through our multi-part order, the young woman
>>behind the counter asked a moment later, "Did you want that with jimmies?" I
>>said, "Yes, please.... Did you say 'jimmies'? I've hardly ever heard that
>>word outside the Boston area."  She said, "They say it quite a bit down
>>here, too."
>>I told my wife about it and she came up with the following theory: "When the
>>Massachusetts delegation came down her to write the Declaration of
>>Independence, they had to bypass New York because it was held by the
>>British.  They brought the word 'jimmies' with them, and that's why it's
>>current in Boston and Philadelphia but not New York."  Happy Independence
>Barbara Need answered:
>          >>>
>Well, except that I lived near Philadelphia for three years (1978-9,
>1980-2) and never heard 'jimmies' for sprinkles. And I would have
>noticed, I came down there from Massachusetts.
>          <<<
>I assume you weren't taking my wife's "theory" seriously!
>I noticed this one just because we, too, have come down from Massachusetts.
>We lived there from 1980 to 2002 -- briefly in Brighton, then in Marlboro
>for a couple of years, then in Framingham from about 1983 on.  I moved to
>the Philadelphia to work in about September of 2002, and a year later bought
>a house and brought my family down as well.
>When we first came to the Boston area we were surprised by the term
>"jimmies", which we were unfamiliar with, and then quickly learned that it
>was local to the area, and adopted it ourselves.  We have seldom if ever
>heard it outside New England.
>But you left Philadelphia just about as we were setting up in Massachusetts,
>over 20 years ago.  Should it be surprising if the word has jumped or spread
>from Boston to Philadelphia, with or without skipping New York, in a
>generation?  Especially if carried by a generation of college students.  I
>have one data point now, plus hearsay, all from the same informant, a
>college-age woman working in a store serving a mostly university population
>across the street from an Ivy League campus.  I don't know how widespread
>the word is in Philadelphia overall, but I would not be at all surprised if
>it were somewhat well-known among the students and totally unfamiliar
>further out.
>-- Mark A. Mandel
>[This text prepared with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.]
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