So… Guess what? Chicken Butt! Yeah, that’s a childish comeback. But hey, this is a site about nursery rhymes, and we strongly recommend keeping the child inside us alive and active at all times.
Right! Now, you must be curious about what comes next (yes, there’s more) and how this ridiculous rhyme even came into existence. There are various interpretations about how the term became so popular. Let’s check out a few in this post and have fun reading the entire rhyme aloud.
Scroll down for the lyrics (your kids will love this one) and the history behind, Guess what? Chicken Butt! (pun intended).
Here's a link to get a printable PDF copy of the famous rhyme, Guess What? Chicken Butt!
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Watch this cute little video with the full lyrics:
Origins and History
The origins of this playground game/ rhyme are sketchy and varied. That said, there’s something in the history that makes sense when linked with ‘Guess What? Chicken Butt!’.
Apparently, the rhyme was first a marketplace dialogue, a communication exchanged between merchants in the local markets. The original words were supposedly from an advertisement that read, ‘Chicken butt! Five cents a cut!’.
Before you imagine the worst, chicken butt didn’t refer to a hen’s bottom. It was, in fact, the meat from a chicken shoulder. Butchers separated inferior cuts like the chicken shoulder from the breast, leg cuts, etc. The inferior cuts were bundled at the end of the day and stored in barrels. These barrels would be sold in bulk for cheap prices. Such a barrel was called a butt.
So, a chicken butt actually meant a barrel full of inferior chicken cuts. While we don’t know if the barrel was priced at just five cents, the amount had more value back in those days.
There are instances of people referring to the usage of this phrase. One is Porgy and Bess opera by George Gershwin, an American pianist and composer. It has lyrics with the word ‘butt’. But the lyrics or the opera have nothing to do with the rhyme.
The book Black Language was published in 1973 and it mentions a reference to the phrase. According to the book, people said ‘chicken butt’ when a person said ‘what’ because they couldn’t hear it properly the first time. The term meant that the speaker didn’t repeat what they said. It’s similar to how ‘nevermind’ is used.
Despite proper documentation, it appears that the phrase was used by Southern Black people sometime in the mid-20th century or earlier.
No, there is no hidden meaning. It is a mindless phrase used for fun.
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