[Ads-l] Modern Proverb: Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first
adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 21 17:23:38 EDT 2021
I received a request to explore the provenance of the expression in
the subject line. Barry Popik has a webpage on the topic with
citations beginning in March 1986. I did not see the saying in "The
Dictionary of Modern Proverbs".
The QI website now has an article:
The earliest match I located appeared in the popular syndicated column
of Earl Wilson in 1962. The well-known ballroom dancer and
entrepreneur Arthur Murray received credit:
[ref] 1962 July 18, The Lima News, Eydie Gorme Will Work, Hubby Steve
Explains by Earl Wilson, Quote Page 32, Column 3, Lima, Ohio.
Arthur Murray says he always eats dessert first, because life is so uncertain.
The statement above was not quite in proverbial form, but the phrasing
evolved over time.
In 1977 the "Encyclopedia of Ad-Libs, Crazy Jokes, Insults, and
Wisecracks" compiled by Leopold Fechtner contained a match (not quite
in proverbial form):
[ref] 1977, Encyclopedia of Ad-Libs, Crazy Jokes, Insults, and
Wisecracks by Leopold Fechtner, Topic: Food, Quote Page 40, Parker
Publishing Company, West Nyack, New York. (Verified with scans) [/ref
I always eat dessert first, because life is so uncertain.
In 1980 Leopold Fechtner reprinted the expression above in "Galaxy of
Funny Gags, Puns, Quips, and Putdowns".
In May 1982 an article in "The Seattle Times" of Washington printed a
[ref] 1982 May 19, The Seattle Times, Sweet Finish Makes a Meal by
Sheila Anne Feeney (Times staff reporter), Quote Page B1, Column 1,
Seattle, Washington. (GenealogyBank) [/ref]
In fact, a sign, donated by a customer, on the cash register of
Pacific Dessert, advises: “Eat dessert first. Life is uncertain.”
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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