Butter and Egg Man (1891)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sun Jan 23 13:59:05 UTC 2005

On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 02:09:19 EST, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>The FYI column in the City Section of the Sunday New York Times discusses
>an old, outdated term--"butter and egg man."
>This was not coined by the George S. Kaufman play of 1925. It is said to
>come from Texas Guinan in 1924.
>Guinan probably very definitely influenced the slang use of "butter and egg
>man," but the "butter and egg man" had been named that since at least the
>Also, the second citation in the HDAS ("1925 in DA: A couple of big butter
>and egg men from Verona, New Jersey") should probably be 1926, not 1925.
>OED has  1926 for it.

I wasn't familiar with the George Kaufman play, but I knew the Louis
Armstrong/May Alix song from 1926.  I always assumed it was roughly
equivalent to "sugar daddy"...


Heptune presents:
Big Butter and Egg Man

Transcribed from vocals by Louis Armstrong and May Alix, recorded 11/16/26,
>From Louis Armstrong, Hot Fives & Hot Sevens, the 25 Greatest; Living Era
AJA 5171.

May Alix:

I want my butter and egg man,
>From 'way out in the west.
'Cause I'm getting tired of working all day;
I want somebody who wants me to play;
Pretty clothes have never been mine,
But if my dream comes true,
The sun is going to shine;
'Cause I want my butter and egg man;
Don't some great big butter and egg man want me?

Louis Armstrong:

Here, here,
Now, mama, I'm your big butter and egg man!
But I'm different, honey,
'Cause I'm from 'way down in the south!
Now listen, baby,
I'll buy you all the pretty things that you think you need
As long as I can keep this cornet up to my mouth;
Oh, I'll play you a little minor in G,
Now, if you'll stay and sit there, baby,
I'll even hit high C!
'Cause I'm your big butter and egg man,
Come here, baby, kiss me,
Big butter and egg man from 'way down south!

May Alix:

Pretty clothes have never been mine,
But if my dream comes true,
Something's going to change!

--Ben Zimmer

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