Originally posted on Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Every former preschooler’s memory surely must hold the ditty Pop! goes the weasel!  

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

(From this bloggers own past, the tune played by the crank for his Jack in the Box.)

Here is the full, standard, first verse:

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,

Half a pound of treacle.

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop! goes the weasel.

According to the Wikipedia:

A music sheet acquired by the British Library in 1853 describes a dance, ‘Pop! Goes the Weasel’, which was, according to the music sheet, ‘An Old English Dance, as performed at Her Majesty’s & The Nobilities Balls, with the Original Music’. It had a tune very similar to that used today but only the words “Pop! Goes the Weasel”. The dance became extremely popular, and featured on stage as well as in dance-halls.[4] By September of the same year the title was being used as a scornful riposte and soon lyrics were added to an already well-known tune.

Perhaps because of the obscure nature of the lyrics there have been many suggestions for what they mean, particularly the phrase “Pop! goes the weasel”, including: that it is a tailor’s flat iron, a dead weasel, a hatter’s tool, a clock reel used for measuring in spinning, a piece of silver plate, or that ‘weasel and stoat’ is Cockney rhyming slang for “coat”, which is “popped” or pawned to visit, or after visiting, the Eagle pub.

Whatever obscurity attaches to “the weasel” … it seems apt enough when conjoined with “That’s the way the money goes” to describe what’s happened to the value of the dollar since the abandonment of the classical gold standard.