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Where "A Piece Of Cake" Came From

Illustration for article titled Where A Piece Of Cake Came From

Fellow food-and-word nerds, you're in luck!

If you're anything like this nerd, you'll be majorly fascinated by Smithsonian's helpful compendium of the origins of food idioms, from "red herring" to "salad days." Another list takes on those of foreign languages — many of which lose quite a bit in translation. (I'll never forget the sight of a friend's Bulgarian mother screaming "PEPPER HEAD!" at other motorists.)

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Among the most interesting bits of trivia: "spilling the beans" comes from ancient Greek election practices of voting with legumes; a "red herring," meanwhile, threw hunting dogs off a scent. The authors were unable to find the derivation of "go bananas," but it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to make the connection to monkeys, surely...or at the very least, the other incomprehensible inanity of the 1922 novelty hit "Yes, We Have No Bananas."


Spilling The Beans On The Origins Of Food Idioms [Smithsonian]

Deciphering The Food Idioms Of Foreign Languages [Smithsonian]

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DISCUSSION

"...'cakewalk' which both probably derive from the 19th-century African-American competitions that awarded a cake to the couple who strutted most gracefully and stylishly around it"

That is infinitely cooler and more exciting than the church cakewalks of my youth.