Pringle’s and Barney Google Do Not Start With The Letter “C”

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 23433 – 1198

Here’s The Haps:

I’m thinking that some of my readers come here for a little chirking up on occasion. I first ran across the term, “chirk up” as I was reading a vintage comic strip called Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. By now most everyone knows that I really enjoy reading a lot of the vintage comics from the Thirties and Forties. The strip was created by Billy DeBeck and carried on by his close assistant Fred Laswell. One of the things that sets this one apart is that DeBeck and Laswell went to the mountains of the U.S. states, Virginia and Kentucky, and made numerous landscape sketches and wrote down local folklore. They studied the dialects and more to make sure the characters were more than just the stereotypical hillbillies that prevailed in the comics and common culture back then. In fact, country musician Roy Acuff praised the team for not perpetuating the stereotypes that typically surrounded the area.

Anyway, one of the reasons I never get things like blog posts that stick to a topic or theme finished is that I wind up going down rabbit trails of one sort or another. I have a membership on Comics Kingdom and access to King Features fairly extensive archives so I found myself trying to find one of the strips where Snuffy uses the term, “chirk up” and wound up reading one of the stories for quite a long time. In this story, Snuffy’s twin brother, Sniffer Smith, is a retired lawman, a “revenooer” to be exact, who has been hired to get the stills out of the mountains. Part of Sniffer’s plot is to bodaciously lie to his brother and make him think he’s dying. From May 10, 1949:

Chirking also means to make a squeaky or high-pitched noise but I’ve never heard it used that way so I didn’t really have much to say about it.

So far I haven’t opened any of these posts with what the words were or were supposed to be. I don’t want the posts to be just words and definitions (even though it might come down to that) but I plan to have some fun with the thing, if I can, so I just sit down and start writing the first thing that comes into my head. But, in order for me to stop shirking chirking you up I need to continue to the next phase of today’s post which turned into an equally winding bunny trail.

The U.K. and America are two countries separated only by the same language. My other word for this post was crisp. What we call chips here in the U.S. the U.K. calls crisps and what they call chips are more like what we would call French Fries. But actually, that wasn’t the first thing that popped into my mind when I thought of the word crisps but rather I immediately thought of Pringle’s. They started out as Pringle’s Newfangled Potato Chips when they first came out in 1969:

But in 1975 the U.S. FDA determined that they could not be called chips because they weren’t sliced from a potato but instead were manufactured using a potato paste to create the uniform shape. They could keep the name chips if they printed this fact clearly on the can. Instead, they decided to call them potato crisps. But, in 2009, a judge in the U.K. decided that the snack contained too much potato to be called a crisp and was, in fact, a potato chip and ordered the company to pay 160 million dollars in back sales taxes because the tax was higher on chips than it was on crisps.

Of course, I could have avoided the multiple bunny trails I went down but what fun would that be? Still, as a toddler here would be willing to point out, Cookie Monster could have helped me out with the letter C:

But I am curious, now, in the U.K. is he called Biscuit Monster?

16 Comments

    • That’s great stuff. Thanks for the link. I had heard it before, I think but it hadn’t crossed my mind while I was doing this post.

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