Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Useless Trivia

"Why is gibberish called gobbledygook?" That's one of the questions in a book that Samuel got for his birthday which explores the illogical English language. It's called Who Put the Butter in Butterfly?

Here's the answer: How appropriate that gobbledygook was coined by a politician! During World War II, Congressman Maury Maverick of Texas, made up the word spontaneously during a speech. He compared the verbiage of a colleague to the turkeys back home in Texas. Not only did both the gobbler and his political enemy spout uninterrupted verbiage, but both strutted with undeserved pretension. As Maverick himself said, "At the end of the gobble there was a sort of gook."

Yes, Maury was related to the Maverick immortalized by James Garner in the television series Maverick. The reason that the name of Maury's grandfather, Samuel Johnson Maverick (1803-70), has long stood for "independent freewheeler" is that old Sam refused to brand his own cattle but claimed any unbranded range stock he came upon as his own.

Okay, so maybe you prefer cereal to gobbledygook. Here's another of Feldman's questions and answers. "Why is the cereal called Grape-Nuts when it contains neither grapes nor nuts?"

C.W. Post introduced this cereal in 1898 and dubbed it Grape-Nuts because of the natural sweetness of wheat and malted barley ("Sweet as grapes," he said) and because it was as crunchy as nuts.

Crunchy as nuts? The cereal is much crunchier than nuts unless you soak it in milk for a few months. Wouldn't Grape-Rocks have been more appropriate?

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