12/13/2013

Pulling Santa out of the bag

Cue the Jose Feleciano!

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart cart

Get ready to pull these sack factoids out of your conversational cart at holiday gatherings:

  • ·     The concept of a bag, a pouch, a pocket, a sac or a sack is extremely ancient, moving into many forms and languages.
  • ·     Since the 14th century “poke” has meant a bag. Now it means a paper bag; a small sack; a beggar’s bundle (obs.); or a bagful.
  • ·     A pig in a poke is a con trick dating from the Middle Ages. An object for sale is concealed in a sack from the buyer allowing for substitution of inferior goods.
  • ·     European travelers to the Americas in the 1600s reported indigenous people using bags and pouches made of tanned leather, hides, and animal bladders.
  • ·     “Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full” protests the British wool tax of 1731. The nursery rhyme “Baa Baa Black Sheep” does not have a racial connotation as sometimes suggested.
  • ·     The expression to “let the cat out of the bag”, meaning to reveal the secret, dates from 1760.
  • ·     First sack race attested. 1805
  • ·       Clement C. Moore’s St. Nicholas carries neither bag nor sack in 1822.


A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

  • ·      Bean bags are used in children’s games.  1871
  • ·     Tote bags are reusable open handbags or shopping bags.  1895-1900
  • ·     The shopping cart was invented in 1937 by Sylvan Goldman of Oklahoma City, owner of the Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores. 
  • ·     Bean bag chairs become standard elements of poor student apartment design.
  • ·     “The sack” is named in 1972. This U.S. football play combines the meanings of “sack” from the sense of “to plunder” with the notion of "to put in a bag."
  • ·     Brown-bagging means to bring lunch or liquor in a brown paper bag.  1970s
  • ·     Bag lady--American slang term from the 1970s describing women who roam city streets, carrying shopping bags in which they keep all their worldly possessions, and picking through trash containers to find useful items. Homeless, these women tend to sleep in doorways, subway stations, or any convenient place that affords them protection from the elements. They are seldom (if ever) beggars, and have become a symbol of independence. This expression is a shortened form of "shopping bag lady.”
  • ·     Plastic grocery bags are introduced in 1977.
  •       By 1996 eighty percent of all grocery bags used are plastic.
  • ·     Ninety percent of people agree raking leaves can be therapeutic, 99% detest bagging leaves.*
  • ·     “Poke” has a long etymology, but its use as a noun meaning a sack or a bag is chiefly used in the southern U.S. at the present.
  • ·     Tote-A-Poke convenience stores are in southeast Oklahoma near Poteau.  Their theme song includes the lyric “when I get so hungry I could almost eat a donkey”.

Use of bag or sack is very regional, and is crossed with the paper or plastic decision. In Lincoln, Nebraska you can ask for a paper sack or a plastic bag. In other places you might want a plastic sack or a paper bag.  Sack is more common in the Midwest, and bag is more common on the coasts.

Please tell me your toting poke, bag, or sack ideas.  Thanks!


*Okay, I made up these statistics. Also I forgot that Larry and his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl still carried a cloth sack in 1982.


© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

2 comments:

JoAnn Papenfuss said...

And, one of the actors was Tony Papenfuss.

We bought our canvas shopping bags (Greenpeace-printed and at employee-discount) from Earth Care Paper Company in 1992. Though one is sporting two patches, they continue to do the lion's share of carrying weekly groceries.

Also, I have two Piggly Wiggly t-shirts for summer wear. Both bought in the Carolinas while visiting relatives who were passing through those states on a residency or retirement. I helped my Minnesota grandma shop the Pig during preteen years. Red Owl was their competing full service grocery. Albrecht' s was best as a wooden-floored corner store.

Home early and not because I got the sack. Using the last of annual leave before it's lost.

Lily Tomlin's character ponders
buying a waste basket and it's bagged at the store so you can throw away the bag in the waste basket when you get home.

Kathleen said...

What fun! I love your sacktoids! I ignore people who "poke" me at Facebook.