Mustard is a Compound Post

My Favorite Mustard

Inglehoffer mustard is incredible. I suggest you try some out. So far, we’ve had the stone ground (probably the best), the honey mustard, the extra hot mustard, and the horseradish (not mustard, but still good). They’re all top quality and kick butt.

Unique to Beaver Run?

When Brian and I were kids in elementary school (Beaver Run), there was a joke about mustard. Ok, it was more of a one-liner. It was simply this:

Mustard is a compound word.1

We thought it was great. Actually I still think it is. It combines scatological humor, rhyming, and a little bit of schoolin’, all in one 5 word sentence.

Ok, so now you know the joke. I figured some thing like this was all over the place in the late ’80s when Brian and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Apparently not. I think it was unique to Beaver Run.

After searching in Google for the phrase “mustard is a compound word,” I was able to find one site where this phrase existed: deviantART. I don’t know what that site is about and I’m a bit afraid to check it out. One of the users on deviantART must know of the phrase.. Somebody mentions it in the comments section on the user’s “home page” on deviantART and I also saw it in the user’s signature on another “home page” on said site.

Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing back from others as to whether or not they grew up with this classic of comedy.

1 Just in case you guys don’t get it, it’s like “Must-turd”…

11 thoughts on “Mustard is a Compound Post

  1. “Mustard is a compound word” was truly one of the great artistic achievements; so much so that I’d rather know who came up with it, then whoever was responsible for building the Egyptian Sphinx. In addition to all the things you point out – it also passes on grammatical knowledge. Now that is something.

  2. This is a great find. I think I tried googling the phrase over a year ago, but, wow, you just happened to catch this posted on the 2nd of this month.

    I’m somewhat familiar with deviantART, in that it’s an image hosting site where you can comment on the images. Think of it as a livejournal or xanga blog where people would rather draw than write (note that loki seems to have combined these 2 forms).

    I’m doing my best to contact this person and ask if she grew up with the phrase. I’ve always been facinated by these socio-linguistic findings. As a teenager, whenever I would meet someone from another part of the country, I would ask them if they knew of deez nuts jokes and would build a mental map areas that potentially had this bit of culture or not.

    Even this Spring I got my co-workers talking on this vein, and for a while work day we all looked at pronunciation maps such as this one which notes percentage of those who say coupon versus kyoo-pon.

    I hypothesize that the mustard saying originated in Beaver Run, since I distinctly remember hearing it when we first learned about compound words. But it’s possible that other areas and subcultures might have come up with it independently.

  3. I don’t want to be labeled a ‘comedy killer’ (I prefer ‘comedy historian,’) but here goes nonetheless….

    This basic premise of this joke has actually made it in the mainstream. It’s a variation of Jeff Foxworthy’s ‘Redneck Dictionary’ that takes everyday words and through accent changes the meaning.

    I’ll refrain from posting any links to bits (if you are really curious – just type “redneck dictionary” into google,) but I’ll give you one example…

    Definition of Mayonnaise: “Mayonnaise some fine lookin’ women in here tonight…”

    Fucking hilarious.

    Do I think that joke is funny? Nope, but thousands, if not millions of other people do.

    Let’s talk shop….

    Jeff Foxworthy happens to be the best selling comedy recording artist of all time. I have mixed feelings about this. You have to give him credit for pioneering a niche and also for working clean. I have always admired comedians that don’t have to rely on cursing to be funny. They sell better and are more marketable. I respect that because there is no way in fucking cunt shit piss donkey-punch hell that I could ever do that. The blue-collar comedy show also happens to be Comedy Central’s highest rated show short of South Park.

    On the other hand, I don’t really find the material all that funny, and seriously doubt that the Blue-Collar Comedians will have any real historic impact on comedy. It’s also a bit ironic that an elementary school joke forms the fundamental basis of a joke that the mainstream public seemingly can’t get enough of….

    (Is ‘of’ a preposition? “It’s also a bit ironic that an elementary school joke forms the fundamental basis of a joke of which the public cannot seemingly get enough.”)

    In short, the ‘mustard routine’ is pretty fascinating. I mean, I hate the joke – but it apparently does well. Scat shit (no pun intended) is usually the domain of female comedy – And girls aren’t funny. Jokes about tampons, periods, and girls being catty have never made me laugh.

    (Wow, I never realized how much I enjoy talking about comedy craft – maybe this means something…)

    In my opinion, the only funny scat humor is the stuff that has some sort of sexual connotation or else is entirely bizarre. Here are a few examples from the “list of lists” by Jim Norton:

    (full list:

    The 3 foulest fluids ever dripped on me by a prostitute.

    The 10 lamest excuses my girlfriend ever gave for not eating my ass.

    Sexual fantasies I’ve had revolving around pig feces.

    The 4 most inconvenient times a pigeon has shit in my mouth.

    Wow, I’ve gotten way off track. .. Let me try to bring it full circle….

    The ‘Mustard Joke’ ain’t funny in my opinion, but it has all the makings of something people find absolutely hilarious. So I guess I find it funny by proxy. After all, it doesn’t matter what’s funny to you – it’s all about your audience. I think “H4x0R R00lz 1337” is funny – but there’s really no point in sharing that with anyone, anywhere, ever.

    Mike, maybe as an exercise you could make a list of elementary and middle school jokes – por ejemplo – (If you’re swimming in the pool and you feel something cool) –Diarrhea, or Rubberbunsandliquor jokes.

    There is material there – but it needs to be tailored to an audience. Once again, I really don’t find the mustard joke itself funny, but when tweaked with the proper angle, people love it…

  4. You’ve killed the fun!

    Your general point is taken. Ultimately I am the audience for the mustard joke. I’ve had similar difficulty explaining to people that the jokes on King Vitamin cereal boxes are funny. People thinking I like those jokes just to be cool… pashaw. However, I would point out, that I think as much as anything Bear was debating the origins of the joke, as where did it come from and was something that Salisbury kids invented? Is the the must-turd joke as Salisbury as the last name Nibblet?

    Reinventing the diarrhea song could be as difficult as reinventing the Knock Knock joke. I’ll write a longer post about it at some point perhaps.

  5. I grant you that the mustard joke and the redneck dictionary might be in the same class of jokes, one which I might call “word play” which probably includes other things like puns, etc.

    However, looking at these redneck dictionary jokes, two things strike me. First, obviously, part of the joke is that they are “definitions”, and like it or not, this separates them out from most “word play” style jokes since they have a framework which you need to know about for them to be “funny.” Secondly, they remind me more of those god damn M.R. Ducks shirts/”jokes” This is probably an Eastern Shore thing for all I know, but the M.R. Ducks thing was like those puzzles out of Wasteland, ex.URABUTLN means “You are a beauty Ellen.”

    Ok, I’m losing focus here. My point is that both the redneck jokes and the mustard joke might rely on a play on words (if you want to call it that), but they certainly have a different approach beyond that. The beauty of the mustard joke is in its utter simplicity. You don’t need to know the context of the “redneck dictionary” and there is no (real) twisting of pronunciation. All you need to be is a fourth grader and its funny.

    To Brian: Funny thing about that kyoopon map is that there seems to be no real geographic variation to the distribution. It’s pretty much even. Who would’ve thunk?

  6. Ahh. Found a better link to the “M.R. Ducks” thing. Notice the link is the “Arkansas reading test.” There was always that redneck slant on it which provided the “creative” pronunciation of the joke necessary for the joke to work, just like Joe’s redneck dictionary. Hence the connection in my mind.

  7. bear: Indeed. Most of us expected there to be geographic regions for these differences, but mostly we found percentages out of population. I do, however, think geography plays a part, but this isn’t shown in the link. There are several reasons for this.

    1. Something as severe as word usage (soda vs pop, pizza vs pie) tends to transfer pretty well between peers, but pronunciation might sometimes (if not most of the time) stick within families. And sometimes it doesn’t, since I say ‘milk’ while my mom says ‘melk’. Didn’t Meggie note your accent, bear, and how it was different from mine? But neither of us speak like we’re from DelMarVa. I think we speak somewhat like how are parents speak.

    2. That leads right into the next point: If it sticks within families, then note that the US, more than any other nation, moves. Simply people here are more likely to get out of their hometown and stay out.

    3. The data on that map is sampled from the Internets. There are plenty of reasons why this would skew the results.

  8. Those’re some interesting observations Dick.

    My hometown, where I spent the first 18 years of my life, is in northern Pennsylvania. People there (and even here in Boston) always said I had a mid-western accent.

    My mom grew up in Detroit so maybe I get it from her, though oddly I always thought both my mom and I sounded like most other people in town. Maybe it’s just lacking sufficient distance to have a good perspective on the matter.

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