[This is day six of 7 Posts in 7 Days.]
The same ridiculous joke that little boys told (and laughed at) when I was in elementary school in the 70s is still popular today. I overheard it in the lobby of my daughter's school this week. Here's how it goes:
Kid #1: You know what? ("Guess what" works too.)
Kid #2: What?
Kid #1: Chicken butt!!!
Hearing this for the first time in many years got me thinking and pondering many things. Why does this joke always involve a chicken? Does it mean "chicken" as in someone who's afraid? Would it be just as funny as "rooster butt?" Do chickens have butts?
So I did some extensive internet research (for about five minutes) to try to find out the origins of the chicken butt joke. Here's what I found:
The first thing to pop up was Urban Dictionary's definition of chicken butt: "A rhyme-arific and obnoxious way to respond to the obnoxious & ubiquitous question, 'Guess What?' A much easier response than actually trying to guess the topic about to be brought up."
Next I found a children's book on Amazon called Chicken Butt, and it's based on the joke: "The classic schoolyard joke has been recast as an irreverent picture book, with call-and-response parts for parent and child."
Then I found something I want for my next birthday or Christmas: a Guess What T-shirt for sale by a place called One Horse Shy:
Most of the search results did not address the actual origins of this joke. But I did find a couple of suggestions on Yahoo Answers (which is one the last places I'd actually go for reputable answers). One person said that one day some moron discovered that "what" and "butt" rhyme, and the phrase caught on after that. That's funny.
Another answer suggested that the phrase came from back in the 50s when you could actually buy some chicken for a nickel. The phrase was, "Chicken butt, five cents a cut."
Guess what? I still have no idea where this joke came from.
[See a list of other 7 Posts in 7 Days participants here.]