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Donna Perugini Children's Author

“Dark Meat or White”

The next time someone asks, “Would you like dark meat or white meat” after carving the turkey, ask yourself, “Do I still think like the Victorians?”.

These were American euphemisms for the leg and the breast of turkey and other fowl.  Leg and breast were embarrassing words in Victorian times.  The words are still used for a description now instead of a euphemism.   Taken from The Henry Holt Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson

Victorian couple

My father had a way of keeping the white meat for himself.  He told the children that whatever part of the bird we were eating, that’s what we wanted to grow.  

I ended up asking for the leg so I could grow longer legs and climb a tree faster than my older brother!

13 Responses to ““Dark Meat or White””

  1. 1
    CK says:

    That is so funny what your Dad would say to you! And I didn’t know those were Victorian euphemisms!

    • 1.1
      Donna says:

      He loved to tease us. I can still hear him laughing when our faces ‘exposed our feelings’.

      It’s amazing what we continue to say without knowing what the background of the phrase or words are.

  2. 2
    Jenn says:

    Donna, I love these little history lessons. I never considered that saying “light or dark” was to cover up the other words, but it makes sense!

    • 2.1
      Donna says:

      Jenn,
      My mother used to have her little ‘sayings or phrases’ that stuck in my mind….”Is nothing sacred anymore?”

      This one was brought out when she was disgusted with anything and felt the offending party had crossed the line.

      Thanks for being such a good Goose Tribe leader and Merry Christmas to you!

  3. 3
    Becky says:

    Ha ha! Well, I won’t be asking for a thigh anytime soon! ;-) I did not know that that was why people started referring to the parts as dark and white. Guess what I’ll be sharing the next time we eat poultry?

    • 3.1
      Donna says:

      Ha! Becky!
      That one was funny…a thigh! When you’re as little as I was (6 or 7), a thigh meant nothing.

      Yes, it will be hard not to laugh when asked, “White meat or dark?”.

  4. 4
    Sarita says:

    I agree with Becky! And to add no breast either! Don’t need them any bigger!

    • 4.1
      Donna says:

      Sarita,
      It’s going to be pretty tough recalling this thread while sitting through a turkey dinner. Be careful not to choke, everyone…and Merry Christmas!

  5. 5
    Audra says:

    Haha! I think I’ll be careful about what part I eat! It would be fun to grow wings and fly…….

    • 5.1
      Donna says:

      You are so creative, Audra! That didn’t even occur to me, to grow wings and fly. Actually, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Wings are so meager on the meat though.

  6. 6
    The Chariot says:

    I like the info

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The terms 'white meat' and 'dark meat' come from the Victorian era! You'll laugh when you learn why they came up with them | SillyPortal
  2. What's the shameful origin of the terms white and dark meat? | my travels. my indulgence.

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