Food Facts & Lore, Fricassee of Words

Fricassee of Words – Couch Potato

Fricassee: Meat cut into pieces and stewed in gravy.

Fricassee of Words: Musings on food-inspired expressions, words and word play, with occasional bits and pieces of kitchen jargon too.

Don’t stir the pot, go fry an egg, two eggs in a basket are better than one hen in the bush… you get the picture by now, and here is today’s food-inspired expression for us to pick at.

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He’s a Couch Potato

Meaning – A person who spends much time sitting down, especially to watch television.

The history of this food-inspired expression is quite interesting. While private television sets really entered the market in the late 1940’s, it was not until 1982 that the expression “Couch Potato” formally entered modern language.

To understand the origin of this phrase, we must look back at early television anatomy. Pictured on the left, below, is a 1948 Radio Craftsman 16″ Picture Tube Set. Pictured on the right, a cabinet designed to house it. Hence the term, television set.

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The first recorded expression referring to people who watched much television was, tuber. In botany, a tuber is a fleshy, rounded stem or root. Potatoes, as you surely know, are commonly called tubers.

A California resident by the name of Tom Iacino is believed to be responsible for taking the next step and referring to Couch Potatoes. He belonged to a club that playfully advocated television watching instead of exercise. Since TV watchers were called tubers, substituting the word Potato was the logical next step. It inspired many cartoon and paraphernalia ventures.

In 1982, a marketing campaign invited avid television watchers to send in a dollar and their lists of favorite shows in order to receive a club membership card, as well as the ultimate TV newsletter, The Tuber’s Voice. Said newsletter was published by, you guessed it, the Couch Potato Club.

Discuss your all-time favorite TV shows while eating at 158 Main & JPD.

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