[Ads-l] cup of joe (1928)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Fri Aug 28 12:40:59 UTC 2015

I don't claim to know the origin or origins of "cup of joe," and I posted two quotes with an exceedingly faint introduction.

Having had my morning tea caffeine, and preparing to write something on a more important subject (a fake manuscript) I would like to say I surely don't consider the Princetonian the "origin." But, if we consider that you/Ben showed the phrase was known by some in 1928, it may be possible that the Dean's 1927 "wit" included referring to the brewer by his first name Joe only (though his last name was available)--unlike the "Joe Martin's" 1914 quote. Sure, it's quite iffy, but not something utterly dismissable, imo.

The second quote is also weak, unless the Jamocha orgin theory and/or the Josephus Daniels' origin theory has merit. After all, it was a policy of Josephus Daniels (possibly associated by some with coffee and less alcohol) that his-- Navy--successor overturned. In 1921. Again, quite iffy. But, calculus-wise, iffy ain't necessarily nuttin. Until or unless we know better.


On Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 9:56 AM, Stephen Goranson wrote:
> Two texts [both at GB] that might possibly be relevant, even if not necessarily
> of great help:
> 1927  Feb. 18 (though GB says 1926) Princeton Alumni Weekly v. XXVII n. 19
> p. 564 col. 2-3
> "Speaking of Restaurateur Joe, that gentleman recently advertised that he had
> a brand of coffee, one cup of which would keep an exam-harrassed student
> awake all night. Dean Gauss commented on this with characteristic wit in the
> next day's Princetonian. He suggested that each morning throughout the
> academic year "a full cup of Joe's waking potion be administered 'to every
> undergraduate in good standing.' The Dean, no doubt, has some morning
> lectures."

This one was also recently discovered by Bill Rabara, who has
suggested it's the origin of "joe" = 'coffee':


(It was this suggestion that got me looking for other early cites.)

I don't think the Princetonian's "full cup of Joe's waking potion" is
anything more than coincidental. Here's another red herring, involving
a different coffee-brewing Joe from New Jersey:

Jersey Journal (Jersey City, NJ), Dec. 4, 1914, p. 8, col. 1 [GenealogyBank]
"Cop's Coffee Did the Trick: Stranger Who Wanted to Sober Up Landed a
Cup of Joe Martin's Brew"

(Patrolman Joseph Martin was head cook of the Seventh Street police
station in Jersey City.)

 "Marines in Nicaragua Gluttons for Punishment"
> _Riverside (Calif.) Daily Press_, Oct. 31, 1928, p. 6, col. 3 [GenealogyBank]
> Frank J. Hicks, whose parents reside at 324 Eucalyptus avenue, this
> city, and who is with the U.S.S. New Mexico's detachment of marines,
> now stationed in Chinendega, Nicaragua, gives his version of a
> marine's experiences in the southern republic in the following lines,
> headed, "Leather Necks in Nicaragua":
> "I will print you a few lines
> To let you in on the news.
> Far from the seashores of Nicaragua,
> Into the jungles we go,
> Wading the mud and cursing our luck,
> Wishing to God it would snow.
> We stop wet with sweat
> And wring out our shirts,
> Throw off our packs
> And sleep in the dirt.
> Can't go to sleep
> Because the mosquitoes bite.
> We have to let them
> Because we are too tired to fight.
> Wake up in the morning
> To drink a cup of Joe,
> Throw on our packs
> For the same old go.
> Wade mud to our knees,
> Sometimes to the neck;
> Makes you think of your home
> In the U.S., by heck!
> Welcome to a place
> About forty feet square;
> The boys stretch their necks
> And come up for air.
> The skipper says, 'Boys,
> Put up the camp'
> And we all got sick
> Because the ground was damp.
> I will put out the lights
> And call it the end.
> If you don't believe this story,
> Try and make Bend."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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