[Ads-l] winner, winner chicken dinner (1991)

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 16 15:08:34 UTC 2017

In my piece about the history of "baby needs a new pair of shoes,", the earliest craps example of the expression includes the line, "if I win I'll gave chicken tonight," which I take to be a precursor of the rhyming version.

It was from the San Francisco Call, March 27, 1900, page 4.

See, https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2014/10/baby-shoes-calico-dresses-african-golf.html

From: Ben Zimmer<mailto:bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: ‎7/‎16/‎2017 6:56
Subject: winner, winner chicken dinner (1991)

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Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      winner, winner chicken dinner (1991)

"Winner, winner chicken dinner" is the subject of this piece by Kotaku
that's making the rounds:


That in turn quotes a 2009 article from Deadspin:

"In an e-mail, David Guzman, an author of _A Guide to Craps Lingo from
Snake Eyes to Muleteeth_, writes: "'Winner Winner Chicken Dinner' came from
alley craps back in the Depression. They used to play craps in alleys and
didn't always use $$$, but if they did it use $$$ and they where winning,
it meant they they could afford chicken for dinner that night.' The
literature on the subject is limited, however, and Guzman allows that
'Winner winner chicken dinner' may have roots in Cockney rhyming slang."

While the phrase does appear to originate as the call of a stickman in
craps, there's no evidence that it goes back to the Depression era, or that
it's from Cockney rhyming slang. We previously discussed this in 2008, with
examples from 1997 (on Usenet):


Barry Popik took it back to 1995 (also on Usenet):


Here it is in print from 1991.

Asbury Park (NJ) Press, Nov. 24, 1991, p. 70
"Dealers' chants pump up players"
"So, when the action's heating up, you'll hear the stickmen go into their
routines: You got a Wager, Major; Gotta Hunch, Bet a Bunch; Bet a Chunk,
Win a Hunk; Bring a Buck and a Truck; Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner; Six,
Easy Six, Bet the Eight, Running Mate; Shooting the Don't, Says he Won't;
Four, Trey, the Country Way, and And on and on."


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

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

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