#3. "Are We Having Fun Yet?" Was First Said by Zippy the Pinhead
Bill Griffith via Thegoldenfrog1.com
There's a pretty good chance that you have either been or punched the person who sarcastically asked "Are we having fun yet?" in the middle of a boring staff meeting, a long car ride, or intercourse. You may have seen the phrase on a Howard Johnson's napkin, or driven behind someone with it as their bumper sticker. Maybe you purchased one of the dozens of books with that title. Or perhaps you've read it in one of the many Garfield products that use it.
1978 United Features Syndicate via Ioffer.com
Wait, did anyone actually wear those pin-on buttons? Why do those exist?
But the phrase didn't come from some bored lasagna cat: You'll probably be shocked to learn that it came, quite literally, from the lips of a pinhead. In the 1970s, underground cartoonist Bill Griffith created Zippy, a bizarre character prone to spouting random non sequiturs. Since there's nothing John Q. Public likes more than struggling to comprehend his daily comic strip, it continues to run in newspapers to this day.
It was later, in 1979, that Zippy first uttered his famous catchphrase, which Griffith insists that he intended "in a kind of existential/despairing way," artist code for "I was tripping balls when I drew this."
Yow! #2, 1979
"Six hits of acid in the morning OJ makes my whole world feel like this."
Soon "Are we having fun yet?" was plastered all over T-shirts, buttons, and other accessories, in addition to being non-ironically used in theme park ads and corporate slogans, but Griffith doesn't get a cent from most of it. Despite beating the odds and having a phrase from his once unknown underground comic catch fire, Griffith can't control its use, because you can't copyright a saying. Still, he claims not to mind ... except when other cartoonists use it. We guess if Garfield or freakin' Ziggy sold another ten thousand coffee mugs because of something we said, we'd be pretty pissed, too.
He was so upset, he forgot to make this strip incoherent.
#2. Sadie Hawkins Day Was a Fake Holiday from Lil' Abner
For decades, Sadie Hawkins Day was that one day of the year when women were "allowed" to ask out men without being labeled as hussies by society, a tradition that continues to this day through the many middle schools and high schools in the U.S. and Canada that hold Sadie Hawkins dances every year. If you'd asked us to guess, we probably would have said that Sadie was a real girl who died in the 18th century during a tragic asking-a-boy-out incident, thus becoming a martyr for the feminist cause.
But nope, it turns out that the whole thing comes from a comic strip. Here's the "real" Sadie:
Al Cap via Deniskitchen.com
Snow White + Alfred E. Neuman = Sadie Hawkins
Al Capp's strip Li'l Abner, about a family of yokels in backwoods Kentucky, was incredibly popular in its day, spawning tons of merchandise and even an amusement park. It was so popular, in fact, that this completely made-up pseudo-holiday created for it eventually crossed over into the real world and became a real thing.
You see, in 1937, the strip introduced Sadie Hawkins, the homeliest spinster in town. Her father, tired of waiting for someone to take her off his hands, established Sadie Hawkins Day, in which all of the town's bachelors would congregate at a starting line and take off running. After a sporting head start, Sadie would chase after them, and whomever she caught would have to marry her.
Al Cap via Youthcast.org
And if he refused, they would sacrifice him to their dark lord, M'allejktor.
The storyline proved so popular that Capp made it an annual tradition for the rest of the strip's four-decade run, including a dance the night before where women trampled on men's feet to make them easier to catch. Yeah, this wasn't exactly the most progressive thing ever, but it did provide an excuse for the youngsters of the day to flip the bird to societal conventions -- only two years later, over 200 colleges and high schools in 188 cities had adopted Sadie Hawkins dances. At first, they even dressed up as characters from the strip in the spirit of the "holiday."
"Nope, totally not stoked about this!"
By 1952, Capp reported that he had received thousands of letters annually from high schools and sororities wanting to know when Sadie Hawkins Day would occur that year so they could plan accordingly, and the tradition continued to spread. Eventually they probably figured that they could drop the pretense and start letting people ask out whomever they wanted.
#1. "Back to the Drawing Board" Comes from a New Yorker Cartoon
If you're the kind of person who frequently screws up at work because you got distracted by, say, accidentally browsing articles on comedy websites for eight hours instead of doing your job, then you've almost certainly uttered this sentence: "Back to the drawing board." The phrase is used whenever something goes wrong and you have to start from scratch.
What you might not know is that this phrase originated at a literal drawing board: that of New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno, who was one of the magazine's most prolific and influential creators of silent-chuckle-worthy gags for over 40 years (although we bet his parents still told people that he was an architect or something). More specifically, the phrase came from the following cartoon that first appeared in the magazine in 1941:
New Yorker via Thisdayinquotes.com
He was also known for drawing pictures of puppies on fire while his cartoon likeness masturbated in the shadows.
The serious historical context just makes it funnier: Although America hadn't officially entered World War II at the time, the design and construction of new military aircraft was still a top priority, and the process most likely involved some trial and error. Arno made light of the situation by drawing a nerdy fellow with blueprints tucked under his arm jauntily walking away from a plane crash and remarking, "Well, back to the old drawing board." This attitude of persistence mixed with cheerful indifference obviously struck a chord with readers, and the phrase caught on quickly enough that, by 1947, it was being used in newspaper stories that had nothing to do with planes crashing.
Before that, Arno had already managed to coin another moderately popular saying with "This is a hell of a way to run a railroad," which he probably used as his personal catchphrase, regardless of context. In addition to all that, Arno was an accomplished attractive person who was rarely photographed without a beautiful woman on his arm.
Peter Arno. Also known as "Every male actor from every 1950s movie."
For more unusual origins, check out 6 Glitches That Accidentally Invented Modern Gaming and 5 Amazing Things Invented by Donald Duck (Seriously).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out A Terrifying True Fable That Will Make You Never Lie Again.