Sunday, November 2, 2014

"A Biscuit" Phrase In Playground Rhymes (Examples & Its Possible Source)

Edited by Azizi Powell

A number of playground rhymes include the refrain "a biscuit" or a folk processed form of those words. As a result of my curiousity about the source of that "a biscuit" phrase in those playground rhymes, I've come up with the theory that the "a biscuit" refrain is a folk processed form of the words "a trisket". Those words were popularized by the Jazz song "A Trisket A Tasket". That said, from the rhyme examples that I've found, it appears that the "a biscuit" refrain wasn't included in "Down Down Baby" and some other rhymes until the 1970s. This post provides my comments about this theory as well as fifteen playground rhymes that include the words "a biscuit". The Addendum to this post provides information about the "A Tisket A Tasket" rhyme and song.

****

The content of this post is presented for folkloric and recreational purposes.

Thanks to all who have contributed these rhyme examples. Thanks also to all who are quoted in this post.

EDITOR'S NOTE ABOUT ADDING COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG
With considerable regret, I have disabled the comment feature on cocojams2 blogs (and on my other blogs except for https://pancocojams.blogspot.com, because of the large number of spam comments that I received on those blogs.

Comments for those blogs can be sent to my email address azizip17 dot com at yahoo dot com for possible inclusion in a specific post on those blogs.

****

VIDEO CLIP OF A SINGING GAME THAT INCLUDES AN "A BISCUIT" REFRAIN
Pizza Pizza Daddy-O

folkstreamer, Uploaded on Aug 3, 2006
A 1967 film by Bob Eberlein and Bess Lomax Hawes that looks at continuity and change in girls' playground games at a Los Angeles school
-snip-
This clip shows only a very small portion of the "I Have A Boyfriend" rhyme [the first game shown] as well as other singing games. However, the film documents that that rhyme with its "a biscuit" refrain was performed as a circle game in 1967. In contrast, the "I Have A Boyfriend" rhymes that are found below are usually chanted while performing hand clap rhymes.

****

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF "A BISCUIT" (REFRAIN) PLAYGROUND RHYMES
"A biscuit" rhymes is my term for playground rhymes that include as a refrain the words "a biscuit" or a folk processed form of those words. Example:

DOWN DOWN BABY
Down down baby
Down by the rollorcoaster
Sweet sweet baby
Mama never lets you go
Shimmy shimmy cocoa puffs
Shimmy shimmy wow
Shimmy shimmy cocoa puffs
Shimmy shimmy break it down
I have a boyfriend
A biscuit
He is as sweet as
a biscuit
Down down baby
Down by the rollorcoaster
Sweet sweet baby
Mama never lets you go
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunnyfrogs/galleries/72157624912523550/ Clapping Rhymes, retrieved November 1, 2014 [Listed in this cocojams2 post as Example #11.]

The examples of "a biscuit refrain rhymes" that I have found thus far date from the 1970s on. And rhyme examples that mention "Ronald McDonald" couldn't have been created before 1963 when that McDonald's mascot was first created. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_McDonald. I'd love to know if anyone remembers chanting a rhyme with "a biscuit" used as a refrain prior to the 1970s.

My guess is that when they are used as a refrain, the words "a biscuit" may not have originally had anything to do with the food named "biscuit". That said, in some "a biscuit" refrain rhymes those words appear to refer an actual "biscuit"- for instance in these lines from the example given above: "I have a boyfriend A biscuit/He is as sweet as/a biscuit".

I'm curious if people who remember reciting these rhymes and if people who are still reciting these words think that "a biscuit" referred to (refers to) an actual biscuit.

*For the folkloric record, it should be noted that the "Down Down Baby" rhymes and the other source rhymes in this post of those rhymes are of African American origin. That African American origin is documented by contributor demographics for the earliest collected examples, and is reflected in the structure, vernacular English, word pronunciation**, topical references, and other content of those examples as well as in the rhymes' performance activities. These statements don't mean that all of the versions of the rhymes that are showcased in this post were composed by African Americans.)

Also, in these a biscuit" rhymes, the word "a" in the phrase "ah biscuit" is pronounced "ah" which is the way that many African Americans generally pronounceed that word in our informal conversations.

****

SELECTED EXAMPLES OF "A BISCUIT" RHYMES
These examples are published in chronological order based on their publication date online, their publication date in the books from which I retrieved them, or the date that I collected them from face to face contacts. The oldest dated examples are presented first. The rhyme example from the movie Big is presented based on the date of that movie's release.

I've assigned numbers to these rhymes for referencing purposes only. These examples are given as they were found online or in books, or as I transcribed them from my direct collection sources. These examples are given without any text analysis.

All of these examples are probably "hand games" (hand clap rhymes), although the performance activity isn't always noted.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing of what I refer to as "ah biscuit" (refrain) rhymes.

1. DOEMINIQUE DOEMINIQUE
Doeminique, Doeminique
Doemenique a biscuit
Ooh chee chee wah wah
A biscuit

How do you like your lover?
A biscuit

He’s so fine oh.
Like as cherry wine oh
A biscuit.

How do you know it isn’t so
Ice cream
ice cream
Soda pop
soda pop
Gingerale
Gingerale
Seven-Up
Seven-Up
Now it’s time to do your thing,
Now freeze!
-Eleanor Fulton and Pat Smith [editors]: Let's Slice the Ice: A Collection of Black Children's Ring Games and Chants (Magnamusic, June 1, 1978; no page number given)
-snip-
Here are the directions for the clap pattern that is provided in that book. I apologize for not knowing how to re-type clap pattern with the words as it was is given that book. Here's the text of that pattern:
Words of chant Doeme-nique, doeme-nique, doeme-nique a biscuit

One child has one palm facing up (toward the ceiling) and one palm facing downward (toward the floor); the other child turns the opposite palms up and down to strike his partner’s (hand) in the clap.

Each partner reverses the position of his palms

Point the right thumb back over the shoulder

Point the left thumb over the shoulder

On “a biscuit” point the right thumb back and then the left thumb back. The clap pattern described above is repeated for five times. Then continue the “palm up-palm down” pattern through the rest of the chant. Freeze in place on the last word!

****

2. DOWN DOWN BABY [From the movie Big]
....Ooh! The spades go, Down! Down! Baby!
Down! Down the roller coaster!
Sweet, sweet baby!
Sweet, sweet delectable!
Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop!
Shimmy, shimmy rock!
Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop!
Shimmy, shimmy rock!
I met a girlfriend a triscuit!
She said a triscuit a biscuit!
Ice cream, soda pop,
vanilla on the top!
Ooh Shelly, walking down the street,
ten times a week!
I met it! I said it!
I stole my mother's credit!
I'm cool! I'm hot!
Sock me in the stomach three more times!
-http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/b/big-script-transcript-tom-hanks.html; The Big movie was released in 1988.
-snip-
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/12/sources-of-big-movie-rap-shimmy-shimmy.html "Sources Of The Movie Big's Rap Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop [Part 1]"
Also, click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-real-meaning-of-spades-go-space-go.html "The REAL Meaning Of "The Spades Go" & "The Space Go" In Playground Rhymes".

****

3. DOWN DOWN BABY
Down Down Baby
Down by the Roller Coaster
Ah Biscuit
Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pah
Ah Biscuit
Um Shar Shara
Uh she she ahwa
Ah Biscuit I had ah boyfriend*
Ah Biscuit
He’s so fine
Ah Biscuit
Like a cherry pie
AH Biscuit
Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pah
Um Shar Shara
Uh she she ahwa
I wanna tickle you.
-Diamond, Quala, Ashley, (African American females,under 10 years old); Quinton, Javonte (African American males, under 10 years old); 7/1999; Hand clap rhyme, collected by Azizi Powell, 7/1999 in Duquesne, Pennsylvania

****

4. DOWN DOWN BABY
Here's a pretty innocuous version. Clapping rhyme, Atlantic City NJ, late 70's:

Down Down Baby, down by the roller coaster
Sweet Sweet Baby, my heart's in love
Ooh, che-chihuahua
Biscuit
I solemnly love her
Biscuit
She is so sweet
Biscuit
Like a cherry treat
Biscuit
Touche Turtle, pull down your girdle
Biscuit
Ruth Archer, http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=100653&messages=29 "Down Down Baby-Race in Kid's Rhymes", 10 Apr 07

****

5. RONALD MCDONALD
Ronald Mcdonald
A biscuit
Ronald Mcdonald
A biscuit
Ah shimmy shimmy walla walla
Biscuit
I've got a boyfried a biscuit
He is as sweet as a biscuit
Ice cream soda with a cherry on the top
Ice cream soda with a cherry on the top
Down Down baby
Down down the rollercoaster
Sweet Sweet baby, I will never let you go
Shimmy Shimmy coco pop
Shimmy shimmy pow
Shimmy Shimmy coco pop
Shimmy shimmy POW!
-Pistachionut, http://www.dance.net/topic/7106059/1/General/Do-you-remember-those-old-rhymes-you-d-sing-as-a-kid.html "re: Do you remember those old rhymes you'd sing as a kid?", Wed Apr 23, 2008

****

6. I WENT DOWNTOWN TO SEE CHARLIE BROWN
I went downtown to see Charlie Brown
He gave me a nickle to buy a pickle
The pickle was sour so he gave me a flower
The flower was dead so this is what he said
Down Down Baby
Down Down The Roller Coaster
Sweet sweet baby sweet sweet I love you so
Shimmy Shimmy coco pop
Shimmy shimmy rah
Shimmy shimmy coco pop
shimmy shimmy rah
I had a boyfriend
a biscuit!
He's so cute...
a triscuit!
Apples on the table,
Peaches on the floor
Step out baby I dont love you anymore!
To the front
To the back
To the side side side
To the front
to the back
to the side side side
Abraham Lincoln sat on a bench
tried to make a dollor out of 50 cents
He missed
He missed
He missed like this !
- kaitlyn renee, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdl8NVSJ_Jo "Blast From The Past :]" , Uploaded on May 3, 2009
-snip-
This was in the publisher’s summary statement for that video.

****

7. DOWN DOWN BABY
me and my friends do down down baby like this even when we are still 6 years old so it goes like this down down baby
down down the rollacouster
sweet sweet baby
sweet sweet don't let me go
i have a boyfriend a BISQUIT
he so cute a BIQUIT
apples on the table petch in the frot [floor]
step on baby i don't love you any more
to the front to the back
to the side to the side
to the front to the back
to the side to the side and . . . FREEZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-TIFFINILE, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTFdsz8llOI, July 2010
-snip-
This example was given as a comment in that video's discussion thread. I reformatted this example from its run-on sentence form.

****

8.Me and my friends do a ronald mcdonald hand clapping game it goes like this.................?
Ronald Mcdonald [clap clap] a biscuit x2
a chooochoowaawaa a biscuit
i gotta boyfriend a biscuit
he's so sweet as a biscuit
i cant let u go [hug]
ice cream sundae with a cherry on the top
ice cream sundae with a cherry on the bottom
down down down down the rollercoaster
i i luuuv [whatever you like]
boom boom boom boom pow
boom boom boom moo cow
can u guys tell me any other ones
Taiza, https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111217165758AA9Z431, 2011
-snip-
Unfortunately, no rhyme examples were posted in response to that query.

****

9. MISS SUE FROM ALABAMA
"Miss Sue. Miss Sue. Miss Sue from my Ala-bama, Ari-zona, Ala-ska. Sittin' on the r'a'cker eatin' that cracker, watchin' that clock go 'Tick-tock. Tick-tock-sha-wala-wala. Tick-tock. Tick-tock-sha-wala-wala.' A-B-C-D-E-F-G--Wash them haters off'a me. Kaboosha! Kaboosha! I see my mommy! Kaboosha! Kaboosha! I know Karate! Kaboosha, Kaboosha! Oops, I'm sorry! Kaboosha, Kaboosha! Bet'cha can't see me!" And then you freeze. Lol
-FudgeSundae22, 01/16/12
-snip-
I think that "Kaboosha" is a folk processed form of "a biscuit".

****

10. DOWN DOWN BABY
Down down baby
Down by the rollorcoaster
Sweet sweet baby
Mama never lets you go
Shimmy shimmy cocoa puffs
Shimmy shimmy wow
Shimmy shimmy cocoa puffs
Shimmy shimmy break it down
I have a boyfriend
A biscuit
He is as sweet as
a biscuit
Down down baby
Down by the rollorcoaster
Sweet sweet baby
Mama never lets you go
GUEST, http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=100653&messages=29 "Down Down Baby-Race in Kid's Rhymes", 02 Oct 13

****

11. This example is near the beginning of this post.

****

12. Ronald McDonald, a biscuit (accompanied by thumbs pointing back over the shoulders, first one, then the other)
Ronald McDonald, a biscuit
oh shu shu wa wa a biscuit
ive got a girlfriend a biscuit
shes so sweet a biscuit
sweeter than a cherry treat a biscuit
icecream soda with a cherry on top
icecream soda with a cherry on top
Down, down, baby
Down, down the roller coaster (accompanied by the hand making a horizontal wave motion)
Sweet, sweet, baby (accompanied by both arms crossing the chest)
I'll never let you go
Shimmy, Shimmy cocoa pop
Shimmy, Shimmy POW! (accompanied by punching the air with a fist just below chest-level)
Shimmy, Shimmy cocoa pop
Shimmy, Shimmy POW!
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_Down_Baby (Eastern Massachusetts Version), quote retrieved November 2, 2014

****

13. THEY DID IT WRONG IT GOES DOWN DOWN BABY DOWN DOWN THE ROLLERCOASTER SWEET SWEET BABY SWEET SWEET DONT LET ME GO CHIME CHIME COCANAUT CHIME CHIME RAH CHIME CHIME COCANOUT CHIME CHIME RAE I HAVE A BOYFRIEND,A. BISCUIT HES SO SWEET,A BISCUIT APPLES ON THE TABLE PEACHES ON THE FLOOR STEP OUT BABY I DONT WANT YOU AY MORE!!!!!THATS THE PROPPER WAY TO IT BUT WITH THE SAME RYTHM
-Kassandra Vasquez, [comment in the discussion thread for the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLNpgWmx1PM "Mcdonalds hand game", September 2014
-snip-
The rhyme that was chanted in the video is "Welcome To McDonalds". That version doesn't include any "a biscuit" refrain.

****

14. Ooh shishy wah wah ta biscuit*
I've got a boyfriend ta biscuit
He is the sweetest ta biscuit
Ice cream soda with a cherry on top
Ice ream soda with a cherry on bottom
Down down baby, down by the roller coaster
Sweet sweet baby I will never let you go
Just because I kissed you doesn't mean I love you
Ice cream soda with a cherry on top
Ice cream soda with a cherry on bottom
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_Down_Baby , Southern New Hampshire version (late 70's), quote retrieved November 2, 2014
-snip-
*This may not be the beginning of this rhyme.

****

15. The train goes...
Down down baby,
Down down the rollercoaster,
Sweet sweet mama,
My hearts love.
Shimmy shimmy cola bottle,
Shimmy shimmy rock!
Shimmy shimmy cola bottle,
Shimmy shimmy rock!
I gotta best friend,
Likes some biscuits,
She gotta best friend,
Likes some biscuits,
Ice cream cone with a cherry on top,
Ice cream cone with a cherry on top,
T-O-P spells,
T-O-P spells,
T-O-P spells,
TOP TOP TOP!
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_Down_Baby (Eastern Massachusetts Version) (Heard in Liverpool, UK), quote retrieved November 2, 2014

****

ADDENDUM: "A TISKET A TASKET" RHYME AND SONG
Here's information from Wikipedia about "Tisket A Tasket" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-Tisket,_A-Tasket
" "A Tisket A Tasket" is a nursery rhyme first recorded in America in the late nineteenth century.[1][2] It was used as the basis for a very successful and highly regarded 1938 recording by Ella Fitzgerald. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 13188. Traditional lyrics....

The rhyme was first noted in the United States in 1879[3] as a children's rhyming game. It was sung while children danced in a circle. One of the number ran on the outside of the circle and dropped a handkerchief. The nearest child would then pick it up and chase the dropper. If caught the dropper either was kissed, joined the circle, or had to tell the name of their sweetheart.[2] An early noted version had the lyrics:
A-tisket a-tasket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I dropped it,
I dropped it,
I dropped it,
And on the way I dropped it.
A little boy he picked it up and put it in his pocket.[2]

In some variants, the second line is "I lost my yellow basket". In other variants, the last line is "A little girl picked it up and put it in her pocket".

In nineteenth-century England, the rhyme used in the same game had somewhat different but evidently related words...

Ella Fitzgerald, in conjunction with Al Feldman, (later known as Van Alexander), extended and embellished the rhyme into a jazz piece which was her breakthrough hit with the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1938. It has since become a jazz standard.[3] A follow-up song written by Fitzgerald and Webb entitled "I Found My Yellow Basket" (1938) was less successful."
-snip-
Click this link to my pancocojams blog: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-tisket-tasket-information-lyrics-and.html. "A Tisket A Tasket" (information, lyrics, and video). That post includes quotes from online sources that indicate that the words "tisket" and "tasket" were made up to rhyme with the word "basket" and those words weren't given any meaning.

****

COMMENT ABOUT THE RHYME EXAMPLES IN THIS POST
Some of the exanples in this collection were featured on my cocojams.com cultural website that was online since December 2001. That website vanished late October 2014 [!?!) and I am partially recreating its playground rhymes pages from back-up files and from recent internet "rhyme harvesting". That's the story behind this blog name cocojams2.

****

RELATED LINK Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-biscuit-refrain-in-down-down-baby.html for a post about "a biscuits" in "Down Down Baby" and certain other playground rhymes. That post also includes a video of the now classic "Sesame Street" clip of girls playing "Down Down Baby". It also includes a clip of Ella Fitzgerald singing "A Tisket A Tasket" in the 1942 movie Ride 'Em Cowboy.

****

Thanks for visiting cocojams2.

Visitor comments and playground rhymes examples are welcome.

6 comments:

  1. By the way, what's the earliest documented date for any "Down Down Baby" ("Shimmy Shimmy Co Co Pa") playground rhyme? "Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop" by Little Anthony and the Imperials was recorded in 1960. But that rhyme doesn't have anything to do with being "down by the roller coaster" or having a boyfriend (or a girlfriend) who was sweet "like a cherry treat" or "as a biscuit"). Were there "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pa" (or similarly spelled) rhymes before 1960?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am teaching my son the rhyme with Ronald McDonald and I still cannot believe that I found this on your blog!! Love it! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just tried to teach my daughter the version of the rhyme I learnt in school.
    It was in the eighties, and
    I forgot a few words, so looked them up.
    Think it's a mix of Down Down Baby and no. 12s Ronald Macdonald. In 1984 approximately ie I was in year 3 in rural school in NSW Australia and we clapped Ronald MacDonald , a- bisket

    Ronald MacDonald, ( clap with partner one palm down, and one up, one hand up in air one down low. Then two of your own hands only 'handclaps' at midline waist ),
    a-bisket ( thumbs stuck out backwards over the shoulder twice and simultaneously)
    REPEAT
    Oh shu shu, ...shu wao-wao ( singing and clapping as per Ronald)
    A- bisket ( thumb over shoulder thing again)

    I've got a boyfriend, ( clapping the same as per Ronald)
    a-trisket ( thumb thing)
    He's as sweet as (clapping)
    a-biskit,
    Ice-cream sundae with a cherry on the top, ( put a cherry on top of head no thumbs)
    Ice-cream sundae with a cherry on the top ( ditto, some people do bottom)
    Down, down, baby, ( clapping)
    down by the rollercoaster, ( do a snake like wave with both hands in front if you
    Sweet, sweet, baby,
    I'll never let you go.( arms hugs self)
    Sugar sugar, cocoa pop ( hands pop, by clench and then splaying fingers in quick release)
    Sugar sugar, pow! (Poke each other in tummy)
    sugar sugar, cocoa pop,
    sugar sugar Wow.. Arms out to hug each other.

    ...so this was our mixed up Riverina district NSW version and sometimes you'd see a few different things from new people to the school

    ReplyDelete
  4. Actually there must be more Shus in the soprano singing part ie Oh shu shu, shu shu, shu Wao...Wao
    Just tried singing it and it didn't sound right.., that's Been thirty years plus, since I sang it, but it's amazing that It comes back after such a long time. It must get stored in that amgydala part of the brain because of trying to concncetrate in two things together ( which is harder for me than most people since I have a little bit of dyspraxia and had hard time just learning to smile and talk, let alone shoelaces and clapping games, so I always had to work on my coordination and end up visualising doing things outside my body, then practise them slowly before I can then do them). So I'm amazed I remembered that as it took me so much concentration to get it right just so as not to appear unco.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Some of my Australian friends also did the Shimmy Shimmy part, and I remember doing that as well a few times, as I had to ask what Shimmy was and my mum said that it was a type of jazz dance from the twenties that they did with the Charleston, but we dropped That part as some kids shook too long, it stuffed up the clapping rhythm and Other kids were teasing us, because we looked silly shaking and equated if with involuntary fits that some kids have. I also remember there was an argument over whether it should be Coca Cola or Coca Pop, because Australians don't call 'soft drink' soda, or pop, like Americans do. Some people call their Grandpas Pop, or Poppy, and there were sherbets called Candy Pops, and Pop Corn, but Soda Pop never seemed to take off here. We usually call it soft drink, ( as opposed to the hard stuff, which is alcohol) and reserve soda to soda water, ie carbonated water which you mix with spirits such as Scotch Whiskey, if you are trying to conserve your alcohol, or not to drink too much or you use it in cocktails. Soda water tastes pretty sour, so most kids didn't want to equate sugary 'softdrinks' ( which our generation were only allowed to have on special occasions as ' they rot your teeth') to soda water that is sour and for most children wasn't tasty at all. Hence we sang ice cream sundae instead of ice cream soda ( someone told us that must be like a 'spider' drink which is what we in Australia call ice cream in soft drink ie soda in US; so we thought Icecream Sundae was more applicable to us). We didn't understand the basis for the whole ' icy pops' versus ' ice lollies' versus 'icy poles' debate either. We knew other countries call 'icy poles', Popsicles or Ice pops ( US) or ice lollies (UK) so I guess we went for Icy pole as in Ice on a stick or pole. My parents for some reason never abbreviated Popsicle to Pop. They always say Popsicle. It was as if there was some sort of important point they were making to not abbreviate it as if by changing pop to pole or ice lolly, we were losing our cultural identity as Australians. I noticed that some icy-pole names in Australia ( imported) have got 'Pop' in them however, so I wonder how long we will retain the Icy pole, or Ice block. Our colloquial usage may be like the clapping games and change with time as we've become globalised. However I always thought a trisket was a type if US manufactured biscuit and also a type of musket gun. I thought that both made a snapping sound, so I never could work out when we sang our Ronakd MacDonald song if trisket was just saying our boyfriend was like a biscuit or whether our heart was breaking our hearts with a snap like the gunpowder. But I always preferred the first idea.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We are not familiar with Doeminque rhyme and why would children ask about a lover.... NO! this is how we said that same rhyme for years:
    Pamela, Pamela, Pamela, A biscuit
    Ooh chee chee wah wah
    A biscuit
    I met a boy, A Biscuit
    He’s so sweet, A Biscuit
    Like a cherry treat, A biscuit.
    Ice cream
    Soda pop
    Gingerale
    POP!
    Hit it- Oooh Sha-wally wally
    Oooh Sha-wally wally
    Now freeze! (Repeat)!
    You are welcomed - Ms. Peaches

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.