[Ads-l] Modern Proverb: There ain't no such thing as free lunch

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 26 19:03:17 UTC 2015

Intriguing lead, Fred. Below is a match circa 1958 that also assigns
the adage to Jake Falstaff. Now, there are two candidates for
authorship, and each has some evidentiary support: Walter Morrow and
Jake Falstaff (Herman Fetzer).

Year: 1958 (uncertain)
Periodical: Automation
Volume 5
Quote: Page 46
(Google Books snippet view; text not visible in snippet; data may be inaccurate)

[Begin raw OCR from GB]
Jake Falstaff probably had answer when he said that econo ics can be
summed up in eij words: "There ain't no such th as free lunch." But
automal may find wheeled bolsters a ? to save a buck in these days v\
things are only normal and ...
[End raw OCR from GB]


On Sun, Oct 25, 2015 at 9:19 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Modern Proverb: There ain't no such thing as free lunch
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> When I search Google Books and limit the search to earlier items, I get a v=
> ery interesting snippet from a source called "Business and Technology Sourc=
> es" (published by the Cleveland Public Library).  The snippet shows a refer=
> ence to a Cleveland Press article dated May 31, 1949 and titled "Economics =
> in eight words, by Jake Falstaff."  An annotation states: "In the style of =
> a fable these words become 'there is no such thing as free lunch.'  This is=
>  a reprint of a column written before Jake Falstaff's (Herman Fetzer) death=
>  in 1935."=0A=
> =0A=
> Fred Shapiro=0A=
> =0A=
> =0A=
> =0A=
> ________________________________________=0A=
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGar=
> son O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]=0A=
> Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2015 8:17 AM=0A=
> Subject: Modern Proverb: There ain't no such thing as free lunch=0A=
> =0A=
> The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs (2012) has an entry for the proverb=0A=
> given in the subject line of this message. This popular expression has=0A=
> been discussed on the ADS list in the past. This message is focused on=0A=
> the figurative use of the expression and not the literal use.=0A=
> =0A=
> The key citation for the figurative use is dated June 27, 1938 and=0A=
> appeared in the "El Paso Herald Post" of El Paso Texas. The proverb=0A=
> was presented as the punch line of an elaborate fable in which a king=0A=
> asked his counselors to summarize economics in a brief and=0A=
> understandable manner. After various tribulations a graybeard=0A=
> economist stated that he could distill the meaning of economics into=0A=
> eight words: "There ain't no such thing as free lunch."=0A=
> =0A=
> The instance in the "El Paso Herald Post" did not list the name of the=0A=
> author of the fable, but other later citations have pointed to Walter=0A=
> Morrow.=0A=
> =0A=
> This message provides a lead to an instance of the fable that lists=0A=
> the author name and may have been published before the instance in the=0A=
> "El Paso Herald Post". The lead comes from a periodical that is=0A=
> restricted to snippet view in the Google Books database. The=0A=
> periodical points to the "New York World-Telegram".=0A=
> =0A=
> Year: 1937 or 1938=0A=
> Periodical: Public Service Magazine=0A=
> Volumes: 62-65=0A=
> Quote Page 220=0A=
> Publisher: Harvey J. Gonden, St. Paul, Minnesota (Based on snippet)=0A=
> (Google Books Snippet View; Data may be inaccurate and should be=0A=
> checked on paper)=0A=
> =0A=
> [Begin excerpt]=0A=
> Walter Morrow in the New York World-Telegram=0A=
> =0A=
> ONCE upon a time a great and wise king ruled a populous and prosperous=0A=
> land. The width and breadth of his kingdom were measured by thousands=0A=
> of leagues . . .=0A=
> =0A=
> "Sire, in eight words I will reveal to you all the wisdom that I have=0A=
> distilled through all these years from all the writings of all the=0A=
> economists. Here is my text: "There ain't no such thing as free=0A=
> lunch."=0A=
> [End excerpt]=0A=
> =0A=
> Does some list member have access to the "New York World-Telegram" in=0A=
> 1937 and 1938? Has it been digitized or indexed? If you can access=0A=
> "Public Service Magazine" in 1937 and 1938 that would also be helpful.=0A=
> =0A=
> Garson=0A=
> =0A=
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