[Ads-l] Modern Proverb: Sacred cows make the best hamburger (antedating attrib Aardvark magazine 1965)
adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 12 07:17:34 UTC 2016
The adage in the subject line was discussed on the list way back in
March 2010. Now the QI website has an entry:
Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburger
Great thanks to Szescstopni, Gary, and Erica A. Zwick whose inquiries
led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.
Special thanks to Bonnie Taylor-Blake, Victor Steinbok, and Charles
Doyle for valuable research. Thanks also to mailing list discussants
Jim Parish and Robin Hamilton.
On Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 8:59 AM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
> The earliest recorded citation for a close variant of this phrase is
> 1971. We present citations starting in 1965.
> The Yale Book of Quotations, WikiQuote, and Bonnie Taylor have the
> best information currently available about this saying I think. YBQ
> notes that Abbie Hoffman is associated with the maxim and cites a New
> York Times article dated 1989 April 20. The Times describes a memorial
> service for Hoffman datelined the 19th with a Rabbi who presents the
> quote ''Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger'' which is portrayed
> as one of Mr. Hoffman's favorite sayings.
> YBQ also contains an earlier reference to a 1979 book of quotes that
> associates Robert Reisner with the phrase: "Sacred cows make great
> hamburgers." WikiQuote notes that Robert Reisner and Lorraine
> Wechsler published the volume Encyclopedia of Graffiti in 1974 and it
> contains the saying. Bonnie Taylor found "Sacred cows make good
> hamburger" in a cite dated 1971.
> Further below we present a 1968 Time magazine article that depicts
> Reisner and his students collecting samples of graffiti. The graffito
> "Sacred cows make great hamburger" is described as a recent student
> find. Hamburger is singular here although it is plural in Reisner's
> later Encyclopedia of Graffiti.
> Our first instance of the saying does not refer to graffiti, Robert
> Reisner, or Abbie Hoffman. In 1965 students at Penn State planned to
> revive a humor magazine called 'Bottom of the Birdcage' with
> inspiration from another magazine called Aardvark.
> Citation: 1965 October 19, The Daily Collegian, Ad Hoc Resurrects
> 'Bottom of Birdcage', Page 4, Column 6, Pennsylvania State University
> student paper. (Google News Archive, ActivePaper Archive full view)
> Birdcage's newly-adopted theme, borrowed from Aardvark magazine, is
> "Sacred cows make the best hamburger." Each issue will have something
> to offend each member of the family.
> I do not know much about Aardvark magazine. Prominent children's book
> author Shel Silverstein gave an interview to a magazine called
> Aardvark. A webpage gives this description: Aardvark "was the college
> humor mag at Roosevelt University--but when the administration saw
> the first issue, they took away any official sanction of the mag, and
> forced [them] to publish off-campus."
> Our second citation is from the same source and concerns the same topic.
> Citation: 1965 November 13, The Daily Collegian, A Lesson in Humor,
> Page 2, Column 1, Pennsylvania State University student paper. (Google
> News Archive, ActivePaper Archive full view)
> Yes, the almost defunct Bottom of the Bird Cage was reborn again
> yesterday, true as ever to its policy that "sacred cows make the best
> In this third citation the saying is called "an old newspaper adage."
> Citation: 1968 January 25, Lowell Sun, Headliners, Page 12, Column 1,
> Lowell, Massachusetts. (NewspaperArchive)
> Princess Radziwell as "Laura" was, in the opinion of "Briefly"
> magnificent on TV last night. All the critics, of course, will pan
> her. It's understandable. An old newspaper adage says "Sacred cows
> make the best hamburger." Lee Bouvier is Jackie Kennedy's sister and
> she has to pay the penalty.
> In 1968 an article in Time magazine followed a class taught by author
> Robert Reisner as participants collected graffiti from lavatory walls.
> The next three cites present the saying as a graffito.
> Citation: 1968 November 15, Time, Curriculum: Handwriting on the Wall,
> Time, Inc. (Online Time Archive)
> Classes begin with students presenting their homework—arresting
> specimens of graffiti that they have collected during the week. Among
> recent, and printable, student finds: "Life is a hereditary disease,"
> found at the Princeton University student center; "Sacred cows make
> great hamburger," from an East Side cafe.
> Citation: 1969 February 14, Ada Evening News, Journalists? by Ernest
> Thompson, Page 6, Column 1, Ada, Oklahoma. (NewspaperArchive)
> Recently, our main thrust has been in the area of graffiti. Here are
> some samples:
> "Sleeping Beauty took Sominex"
> "Lassie eats chickens"
> "Sacred cows make great hamburgers."
> Citation: 1969 August 29, Lowell Sun, Graffiti lives and has since
> Rome was built, Page 26, Column 1, Lowell, Massachusetts.
> The best humorous graffiti take a droll look at modern society and its
> hang-ups. An urban pessimist wrote "Chicken Little was right" on a
> pillar of a New York subway, for example. "Sacred cows make great
> hamburger" is not only a prime slice of wall-writing, it's a kind of
> manifesto of graffiti-dom.
> Next we present a precursor citation for the saying. The notion of
> using the meat of metaphorical sacred cows for hamburgers is mentioned
> in the sports pages of the Chicago Tribune in 1940. The citation does
> not say that hamburgers generated in this manner would be the best or
> the tastiest. So this text is thematically linked to the saying under
> investigation but has a different meaning. This cite was found by
> Bonnie Taylor and mentioned on a forum at the Snopes website.
> Citation: 1940 September 29, Chicago Tribune, White Sox, Cubs Open 23d
> City Series Tuesday by Irving Vaughan, Page B5, Chicago, Illinois.
> (Proquest Historical Newspapers)
> It is almost generally conceded that the Cubs made a 100 per cent mess
> of their National league affairs this year. By the series of brilliant
> trades for which they have become so noted, by the nursing of sacred
> cows on which there isn't enough healthy meat to make up a five cent
> hamburger, and by all around smugness, the Cubs have deteriorated to
> such an extent that a good portion of the National league seems to
> have gone away and left them.
> The link immediately above goes to a forum on the Snopes website where
> Bonnie Taylor presents several interesting cites for the saying
> including the 1940 precursor, a 1967 precursor, and a 1971 cite.
> Another precursor appears in the first half of the 1960s. This cite is
> closer to the target saying because the metaphor is extended to
> "better hamburger".
> Citation: Circa 1960 to 1965, College Board Review, Page 24, Issues
> 40-51, College Entrance Examination Board . (Google snippet view only.
> Not verified on paper. Date uncertain.)
> One mustn't butcher old sacred cows, however, without at least
> offering a better hamburger. So I have a modest set of recommendations
> for both ...
> Garson O'Toole
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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