[PW] What is the original source of the quote "a little from column A and a little from column B"?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Tue Jan 9 20:20:30 PST 2018


Thanks to John Cowan, John Baker, and Dana Dalrymple for their
responses. Researcher Barry Popik found an instance alluding to a
Chinese restaurant menu in 1958 that was mentioned by popular
columnist Earl Wilson. A couple years earlier another columnist
ascribed the quip to Borscht Belt comic Buddy Hackett:

Date: August 6, 1956
Newspaper: The Rockland County Journal-News
Newspaper Location: White Plains, New York
Article: My New York
Author:  Mel Heimer
Quote Page 12, Column 4
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
What this means, briefly, is that the only entree to be served at
dinner will be roast beef. "The finest roast beef in the world," the
management reports, perhaps a trifle prematurely. Well, it can be
another Chambord, but if I can't have, in comedian Buddy Hackett's
phrase, my choice of "two from column A and one from column B," I
won't be happy.
[End excerpt]

Garson O'Toole
QuoteInvestigator.com

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 7:31 PM, Dana Dalrymple
<ddalrymple at spokanelibrary.org> wrote:
> Here's a blog entry that backs up the Chinese menu origin with some references - https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/one_from_column_a_one_from_column_b_chinese_menu_ordering/
>
>
> Dana Dalrymple
> Managing Librarian | Spokane Public Library
> ddalrymple at spokanelibrary.org
> Read. Learn. Discover.
> spokanelibrary.org
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Project-wombat [mailto:project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.org] On Behalf Of Baker, John
> Sent: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:17 PM
> To: list at project-wombat.org
> Subject: Re: [PW] What is the original source of the quote "a little from column A and a little from column B"?
>
> That was what I thought as well, and the theory is supported by Wiktionary, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a_little_from_column_A,_a_little_from_column_B.
>
>
> John Baker
>
>
>
> From: Project-wombat [mailto:project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.org] On Behalf Of John Cowan
> Sent: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 7:15 PM
> To: list at project-wombat.org
> Subject: Re: [PW] What is the original source of the quote "a little from column A and a little from column B"?
>
> The form I know is "one from column A and two from column B", and refers to
> the menus in Chinese restaurants, where for a fixed price you get to make a
> choice of this kind; presumably column A would contain main dishes and
> column B would contain appetizers. If this is right, attempting to find a
> specific source would be hopeless.
>
> On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 7:11 PM, Jen Wilson <jemawi at gmail.com<mailto:jemawi at gmail.com>> wrote:
>
>> Hi All,
>>
>> A colleague had question this morning regarding the quote "A little from
>> column A and a little from column B" which he knows from the movie Aladdin
>> (1992).
>>
>> He is wondering what the origin of this quote is? (Surely it pre-dates the
>> movie). We could find lots of references to it but nothing definitive about
>> a source. Can anyone tell us more?
>>
>> Cheers
>> Jen
>>
>> --
>> *"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
>> Dorothy Parker*
>
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