Handy Spandy Jack-a-Dandy is a fine example of how wordplay can bring humor using seemingly simple words. The four-lined rhyme underwent a few changes over the years but retained the cheekiness. The trick to enjoying the rhyme lies in knowing its history.
Though there isn’t much information about where and how Handy Spandy Jack-a-Dandy originated, we do have a few tidbits to share. The story is rather fun, you see. Want to know more?
Continue reading to grab a copy of the lyrics and find out the exciting piece of information we dug out for you. We even shared the lyrics for another version of the rhyme.
Handy spandy Jack-a-dandy
Loves plum cake and sugar candy,
He bought some at the grocers shop
And out he came, hop, hop, hop.
Nauty Pauty Jack-a-Dandy
Stole a Piece of Sugar-Candy
From the Grocer's Shoppy-shop,
And away did Hoppy-hop.
Save the printable PDF file with lyrics for Handy Spandy Jack-a-Dandy by clicking on this link.
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Check out the animated version of the rhyme:
Here’s another cute video:
Origins and History
Records show that the nursery rhyme first appeared in 1726. It was published in A Learned Dissertation on Dumpling and titled Nauty Pauty Jack-a-Dandy. The book was written by Henry Carey and edited by Samuel L. MacEy. Henry Carey was a famous English poet, dramatist, political satirist, and songwriter.
A slightly different version of the rhyme was published in Harry’s Ladder to Learning in 1850. There’s no information about the author of this illustrated book. The nursery rhyme was again compiled in The Real Mother Goose collection in 1916. There’s another version published in 1799 where Handy Spandy is Jacky Dandy.
The main difference between the 1726 and the modern version is in the second line. The first recorded version says that the person described in the poem stole sugar candy. Yep. It wasn’t about the person buying the sweets he loved but rather stealing them. Stealing was changed to buying in the 1799 version and has continued since then.
Now, here’s the tidbit we promised to share with you. The rhyme makes fun of people who put on airs and overdress just to show off. It was aimed at the aristocrats. The word dandy appeared in English vocabulary during the same period (Regency era).
The poem mocks aristocrats who dress well and have their noses turned up in the air. Of course, history has enough stories about how a few of them ended up in debt by overdoing the lavish lifestyle.
It doesn’t refer to anyone, as far as the information we have. However, Beau Brummell, a courtier of the Prince Regent (King George IV), was considered the dandiest man. He lived a luxurious life only to flee to France to avoid repaying debts.
The poem follows a rhyme scheme of AABB, where the first line rhymes with the second, and the third rhymes with the fourth.
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