The aboveexcerpt indigenous the poem, an HonestConfession, (The Salt River newspaper (Bowling Green, Missouri), august 7,1841) contains one of number of idioms the may type the communication forthe phrase, “more fun than a barrel of monkeys.”
There is no well-known origin of the phrase,aside native the fact that a barrel of chimpanzees is likely pretty funny. It seems that the phrase may may be conjured from several, pre-existing idioms or photos that all associated to various combinations of fun, barrels and monkeys. When linked in just the right way, the result phrase produced such a perfect picture in the mind’s eye the it captured on and also continues to be a useful way of conveying a mood of raucus, unrestrained fun.

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<(This post should be read in conjunction through my update about the related idiom, "more fun than a crate of monkeys.)>

Babyboomers and also post-baby boomers probably an initial encounter the phrase inassociation with famous game/toy, Barrel that Monkeys, introduced by LakesideToys in 1965. Their proclaiming jingleassured us that, “nothing’s an ext fun 보다 a barrel that monkeys.” yet the expression did not start there; in 1965,the phrase, “more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” to be already almost ninetyyears old.


The phrase had actually beenused decades earlier in advertisements for Velvet Tobacco, beginning in 1919, and also for a line ofhumorous postcards in 1907. By themid-1890s, the expression was well-established, showing up regularly in print. Here"s one example, from theDaily PublicLedger (Maysville, Kentucky), January 20, 1893:
“Bub Brown, a flow man,poor, honest and industrious, stole his sweetheart, miss Anna Collins, age 30and precious $2,000, and at the finish of a sleighride married her Covington.When they went back to Ludlow, “Bud’s” mother-in-law met him through pet name anda pair the fists, and also there was more fun 보다 a barrel of monkeys. Insteadof “cleaving come his wife” together the regulation directs, Brown climbed the earlier fence andlit out.
The year 1893 appears to have been some type of watershed year for the phrase, at least as judged through its figure in seek databases. The phrase shows up frequently during and also after 1893, however only sporadically before 1893.
The phrase first appeared in publish in 1881. The is used inHenry McAlpin’s, The Messenger: A Historyof the class of 1881, that Princeton College, (H. Holden, brand-new York, 1881) andin a newspaper article in the Richmond Democrat (Richmond, Missouri). In both cases, the phrase was set apart inquotations, which says that the writers might have considered the expression wasnew, slang or a number of speech.
TheMessenger recounts a freshman-year,after-curfew prank that connected a plot come steal the fly-wheel indigenous PrincetonUniversity"s pipeline organ. They did notwant to start too early, because they assumed that the guards would autumn asleeplater in the evening. To kill time prior to the appointed hour, lock decidedto walk duck hunting, with rocks, at a quarry in the Jugtown ar of Princeton.The organizer that the outing assured everyone that they, "would havemore funny than a barrel that monkeys."
The duckhunt take it place during the class of "81"s student in the first year year, which would have beenthe 1877-1878 college year. If the 1881recollection that the use of the expression is accurate, “more funny than a barrel ofmonkeys" may have remained in current use among Princeton freshmen as at an early stage as1877. And also no, they did no succeed in stealingthe flywheel. Lock did, however, eatseveral ducks for dinner the next evening.
The author, HenryMcAlpin, Princeton ’81, was a member of the McAlpin family of Savannah Georgia. The McAlpins own the Hermitage Plantationand a brick production plant. Henry’s grand-father, Henry McAlpin, is said tohave constructed the first railway in the unified States, a quick track through a carpulled by steeds that was supplied to move a building from one brick kiln locationto another. After Princeton, the youngerHenry studiedlaw at Columbia and the university of Georgia and became a judge.
<(The phrase, "more funny than a crate of monkeys," an initial appeared at about the same time.)>A secondappearance that the expression from 1881 appears in a short report of a visit to Excelsior Springs indigenous the June 30 version of the Richmond Democrat:
Richmondwas well represented at Excelsior Springs, critical Sunday. Murry McDonaldand miss out on Lula Hughes, "Bush" Hughes and Miss "Phene Scholl, JohnMosby and also Miss Blanche Sayre, Chas. Scholl and also Miss Enna Wilson, "tookin" the city in every its vastness, and they had "more fun than abarrel that monkeys." The "redeeming feature" and also "thegroup" were lovely - as beautiful together a glimpse of Paradise.
The use ofquotes roughly "took in" and also "more funny than a barrel ofmonkeys" seems to imply that the unit volume were thought to it is in slang orfigures that speech. Or, perhaps, thewriter heard words from one of the members that the party. The nicknames supplied in the article ("Bush" and "Phene (presumable short for Josephine)) and also the reference to the ladies as Miss, imply to me the the members of the group were young people. Probably the phrase was young-person slang atthe time, or perhaps they had actually heard the phrase at college out east or fromfriends the end east.
The "redeeming feature" stated in the short article is most likely the mineral springs that had been found theprevious year; Excelsior Springs, Missouri now cases to it is in the residence of the world"s longest mineral water bar!
An 1886 newspaperarticle further says that the expression was thought to be of American origin. The write-up recounts a conversation between anAmerican, Wyoming Steele, and an Englishman, Cecil Cameron. The two space engagedin a conversation about a poster proclaiming Monsieur Blitzini, "Prestidigispiritiste."Blitzini was a magician who had actually debunked seances perform by various other "spiritualists," however who had actually himself, throughout hisresearch right into seances, discovered the existence of ‘actual’, invisible spirits, or Genii,who assisted him through his act – i imagine Monsieur Blitzini to have been something choose Woody Allen’s character, Sid Waterman, in themovie Scoop.
So, thephrase, “more fun than a barrel the monkeys,” to be American and also was in present useamong, or at least in relation to, young civilization in places as far-flung as NewJersey and Missouri in 1881 (or probably as at an early stage as 1877). Yet is there more to the origin beyond theobviously funny image?
The impulseto create the expression may have been influenced by several phrases or well-knownimages that indicate an association amongst fun, barrels andmonkeys. Before 1881, the phrase, “barrelof fun,” was in use, monkeys had lengthy been connected with barrel organs, afamous new York monkey was recognized to have actually performed on height of a barrel, and theexpression, “sucking the monkey,” was used to describe drinking rum indigenous abarrel.
The phrase"barrel of fun" to be known and also used prior to it was extended to monkeysin barrels. In 1880, for example, a armed forces band was claimed to have had a"barrel of fun":
"Cofield"sBattery C Cornet tape was out on a serenading exploration Sunday evening.It to be by no way such "a starry night for a ramble" as the familiarsong describes, for the darkness to be inky and also the rain poured down in fitful showers,but the guys rambled nevertheless, and had a barrel that fun."
TheDonaldsonville cook (Donaldsonville, Louisiana), in march 13, 1880.A reunion organized in 1878 was stated to have been, "everal barrels the fun, unheaded." The home Journal (Winchester, Tennessee), September 12, 1878, web page 3.
Their clerks space asbusy together a monkey in a tar barrel, handle out items to the crowds the customersthat come there daily.

Monkeys hadlong been associated with barrel-organs, the type of organ frequently played byorgan grinders.For example, one 1853 story, reprinted in The BelmontChronicle (St. Clairsville, Ohio) ~ above July 21, 1854, included:
“’Och,murther!’ cries Neal, shakin’ his hand wid the black lobsther clingin’ come it,an’ he skippin’ around like a monkey ~ above a barrel-organ
Again, ns amreminded that Woody Allen, thistime in the Lobster scene in Annie Hall. If barrelorgans space not barrels, words barrel is at least connected with monkeys.
"OsdanndienJean Baptiste Genorken, an Italian organ grinder living at 41 Laurens Street,had a monkey, which used to sleep through him. He referred to as him Jocko, and hadbrought the from Italy, having actually purchased the in Genoa in ~ a expense of $100.He valued him over all price. Jocko since his arrival here has made alocal reputation for himself. What little new York young does not recognize themonkey i beg your pardon shoots turn off a gun, plays on a banjo, cymbals, and also harp, andperforms all kinds that tricks, when standing ~ above a small round barrel?Jocko was without doubt an invaluable monkey come his master."
An 1855article about an organ-grinder referred, specifically, to a “funny monkey” andalso makes recommendation to how typical organ-grinders were:
Themonkey, the is needless come add, was the “bright specific star,” and also to say theleast, a funny monkey the was.
Theorgan man ongoing to “crank” music as an accompaniment come the superiorperformances of the long tailed animal, i m sorry in the food of 5 or tenminutes, won because that itself a reputation for smartness exceeding the of every hismany predecessors combined.
Finally, “suck the monkey,” is an additional factor that created an association among and in between barrels, monkeys and fun. A slang thesaurus from the duration defined, "suck themonkey,” as, "to plunder a cask the liquor by inserting a straw with a gimlethole, and also sucking a part of the contents." The Slang Dictionary, man Camden, Hotten, Picadilly, London (1864).
Salt RiverJournal (Bowling Green, Missouri), august 7, 1841.

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<(For additional information on the origin of "more funny than a barrel that monkeys," see my upgrade on "more funny than a crate of monkeys.")>
So, inreview, a barrel that fun, funny primates with barrel offal or on optimal of barrels, sucking monkeys, drinking from a barrel, acquiring drunk, having actually fun – how muchfun? - an ext fun 보다 a barrel the monkeys.
TV advertisement - 1965 (at 2:45)

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