"Chicken or the Egg"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Tue Dec 21 04:32:56 UTC 2004

On Mon, 20 Dec 2004 22:42:03 -0500, Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>

>I am again in a place without access to ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
>Is anyone willing to check for me what is the earliest hit on PQHN for the
>expression "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Los Angeles Times, Jan 11, 1895, p. 6
(Indianapolis Journal:) "Mr. Billings," said the landlady, playfully,
"which do you think came first -- the chicken or the egg?"
"I never gave the subject much thought, Mrs. Hashcroft," answered
Billings, "but I am willing to bet that if any chicken preceded this egg
it died long ago, long ago."

(Similar joke appeared in the Washington Post, May 18, 1906, p. 6.)

--Ben Zimmer

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