Re: peas with honey [WAS: Marmite]

Ken Cashion <kcashion@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

On Wed, 15 Mar 2006 00:34:03 +0100, trio@xxxxxxxxxx (Donna Richoux)

the Omrud <usenet.omrud@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

There shouldn't be any versions - it's a poem by Spike Milligan:

I eat my peas with honey,
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife.

If you have proof of this, perhaps you should inform the Powers that Be
(as shown in Bartleby's entry):

The Columbia World of Quotations. 1996.

NUMBER: 62415
QUOTATION: I eat my peas with honey,
ATTRIBUTION: Unknown. I Eat My Peas with Honey (l.
1). . .
Oxford Anthology of English Literature, The, Vols.
I-II. Frank Kermode and John Hollander, general eds.
(1973) Oxford University Press

Approximately 39 web posts, like you, attribute the poem to Spike
Milligan, and since he was born in 1918 I suppose he could have written
a ditty that feels to me like it's been around forever. However...

"Johnson Boy's eat peas and honey
They have done it all their life
Makes them peas taste mighty funny
But it keeps them on the knife.
But it keeps them on the knife."

A verse in a traditional American folksong from around 1800.
It was initially a fiddle tune and then a series of verses appeared
and now (the song, having been in the folk process) there is no
telling from where any particular verse came. However, there are
references to this verse before 1900.

OK -- for the record, can you give us the citation: in what book was
this published? At least title and year, and preferably author and
publisher if possible.

We would need to find something published before 1940 to rule out Spike
Milligan. I really doubt he could have written it at age 20 and have it
show up two years later in some (at this point imaginary) collection of
traditional US fiddle tunes!

However, I can imagine someone learning the poem in the 1960s singing to
to a traditional fiddle tune, as an extra verse... Heck, I'm not the
only person who tacks the "Witch Doctor's" "Oo, ee, oo ah-ah, ting,
tang, walla-walla bing bang" at the end of "I've Been Working on the

....Hm, I hate to report this, because I like your theory, but the
performance of this song is associated with Dusty Springfield and her
family trio The Springfields -- *British* musicians, who happened to
love American music. She's was born in 1939 so could have learned it
from (British) Milligan, if it was his... She/they recorded "Johnson
Boys" in 1962, but I don't know if we can listen to it or find the

So we still need early evidence. Got some?

Best -- Donna Richoux