Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 28 21:13:17 UTC 2012

Thanks to Joel, Jon, and Charlie for pointing out this expression.

The phrase was used by Dandy Don Meredith while he was providing
commentary for Monday Night Football along with Howard Cosell. The
rendition in the following citation uses a singular 'if'.

Cite: 1970 November 11, Gastonia Gazette, Frady's Views by Dwight
Frady, Page 2-B, Column 1, Gastonia, North Carolina.

[Begin excerpt]
I liked it Monday when he used the word "if," which you can always
fall upon discussing something which has just happened in sports or
when you're second-guessing.
Dandy said: "If 'if' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, what a Merry
Christmas we would have."
[End excerpt]

Here is another instance.

Cite: 1970 December 17, Ada Evening News, Last Look at the Arena by
Ernest Thompson, Page 7, Column 1, Ada, Oklahoma. (NewspaperArchive)

[Begin excerpt]
Howard:"If Los Angeles wins, it's a big one, but San Francisco is
still very much in it."
Don: "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas."
Howard: "I didn't think you'd remember that old canard."
Don: "Is that what it was?"
[End excerpt]

Barry Popik has an entry for the phrase. The first citation is the one
dated December 17, 1970 given immediately above.

 “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas”
Entry from November 28, 2006



There is a match for a version of the phrase in "The Bible 2.0 by
Nathan Smithe" in the Google Books database. The work has an assigned
GB date of 1969, but the date appears to be incorrect because the book
contains the sentence: "Tru Hullywood stories about Lindsey Lohun."


On Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 10:17 AM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at uga.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: QOTY?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Google Books seems to give an instance of "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas" from 1977 (I expect Garson can take it back farther), and some from the 1980s.
> As for the rhyming wellerism "'Later we'll all die,' / Said the gator to the fly":  The context suggests that something like an "old saying" is being quoted--but what (if anything)??
> --Charlie
> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Jonathan Lighter [wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM]
> Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:09 PM
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In "Bad Teacher" the put-upon principal tells Miss Squirrel he'll talk
> about something "later."
> She says didactically , "'_Later_ we'll all die',/ Said the gator to the
> fly!"
> The principal says "What?" in that special, intense way reserved for the
> irritatingly incomprehensible.
> JL
> On Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 4:49 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Romney "political director" Rich Beeson, telling us why, even if he
>> loses Ohio, he might still manage being elected:  "If ifs and buts
>> were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas."
>> A potential QOTY whoever wins the election.
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/27/opinion/collins-ohio-gets-the-love.html
>> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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