ice to Eskimos

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 9 18:00:52 UTC 2013

I don't disagree with you, Joel. But (2) is in circulation and I am
curious how people may justify it.


On 8/9/2013 1:35 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> In isolation, I think "pointless", as in "bringing coals to
> Newcastle".  Victor, have you seen contexts with that sense?
> My topmost hit on Google is "Ice to the Eskimos: How to Market a
> Product Nobody Wants [Jon Spoelstra] on"
> Thus in the "selling" rather than the "bringing" context, the meaning
> seems to have extended from "one couldn't" to "inducing" an
> unnecessary purchase.
> But (2) below doesn't make sense to me.  Eskimos would not normally
> be expected to be easy sales for ice.
> Joel
> At 8/9/2013 01:00 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>> I've been puzzling over hearing that phrase sometimes. There are two
>> context, directly opposite:
>> 1) He's such a good salesman, he can sell ice to Eskimos.
>> 2) He's a marketing nightmare. He couldn't sell ice to Eskimos.
>> My intuitive guess (no research to speak of so far) is that (1) was
>> first and it somehow flipped in some minds, along the lines of
>> "couldn't-->could care less".
>> Any thoughts, research?
>>      VS-)

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