Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Chewing Gum Song & Rhyme (My Mother Gave Me A Nickel)

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revisions: April 25, 2021

This pancocojams post presents information about the source of the tune for the song & rhyme "Chewing Gum" (My mother gave me a nickle to buy a pickle).
This post also features sound files, videos, and text examples of the "Chewing Gum" song & rhyme.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Here are the first comment & the last comment (to date) from a lengthy Mudcat Cafe discussion about the tune of the "Chewin' Gum" song/rhyme:
From Subject: Penny to buy chewing gum/Gershwin?

That Mudcat Cafe dicussion thread is also known by the title
"Lyr Req: Chewing Gum / Choo'n Gum / Bubble Gum"

Subject: RE: Penny to buy chewing gum/Gershwin?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 08 Jul 04 - 02:17 AM
"I know there was a song called "Choo'n Gum" that was written by Mann Curtis and Vic Mizzy, and was recorded by Dean Martin and Teresa Brewer and the Andrews Sisters, around 1950.

But the tune to the chorus of this song shows up in Gershwin's "An American in Paris" which was written in 1928. It's clearly intended to represent a popular American tune of the day.

So...does anybody know where Gershwin got that tune?"

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Chewing Gum / Choo'n Gum / Bubble Gum
From: GUEST,Peter Kemp
Date: 17 Feb 13 - 07:03 AM

"The tune appropriated for "I love chewin' gum" (lyric: "My ma gave me a nickle to buy a pickle, / I didn't buy the pickle, I bought some chewin' gum.") is by Louis Gallini and it comes from his purely orchestral march "La Sorella". I'm unsure when it was composed, but recordings exist on the American Victor label from March 1906."
"La Sorella" is also known as "La Mattchiche". The credit for that composition is sometimes given to Charles Borel-Clerc. Information about "La Sorella" is included in the summary statement for the sound file "La Sorella" which is found below.
Click for information about George Gershwin's 1928 composition "An American In Paris". That composition is also used in the sound track of the 1951 American movie "An American In Paris" on which George Gershwin collaborated.

Example #1 (The source of the Chewin' Gum song/tune)

La Sorella - The Sister

FromHolbergsTime, Uploaded on Sep 15, 2011

This traditional dance was composed by Charles Borel-Clerc (1879-1959) and published in 1905. Some sources cite Louis Gallini as the composer. This song is also known as "La Mattchiche," a style of dance also referred to as Maxixe (from Mozambique). The Maxixe is often considered the Brazilian tango, becoming known around 1868 in Rio de Janeiro, at the same time the tango was becoming popular in Argentina and Uruguay. This Afro-Brazilian dance was influenced by the lundu, polka and habanera, and also added to the evolution of the samba and lambada...
The word "maxixe" may have come from Mozambique. Here are two excerpts from an online article about African slavery in Brazil (quoted with spelling corrections)

"Slavery has a huge impact on Brazil. It affected both the economy and the ethnic make up of the Brazilian population. The importation of such a large number of Africans into a colony with such a small number of Portuguese, profoundly affected the ethnic balance. The level of African imports also meant thsat unlike North America, Africam culture was not largely wiped out and thus had a significant impact on Brazilian culture (food, music, dance and religious practices). This is especially the case in Rio and the northwest where many of the slaves were concentrated."

"Captives from different African regions were transported to Brazil. This included Africans from West Africa, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique and from interior regions. Large numbers of Africans were obtained from southern Africa (Angola and Mozambique) where the Portuguese had a dominant role. Some Africans from these areas were transported to the Caribbean and the United States as well, but the shipments to Brazil were especially significant."

Information about Maxixe, Mozambique can be found at,_Mozambique.

Also, click for information about the Maxixe Dance.

And click for video examples of the Maxixe dance.

(Examples #2, 3, & 4 are examples of the "Chewin Gum" song)

Example #2: Dean Martin - Choo'n Gum

AllLegendsOfMusic Published on Nov 29, 2012

The Most Beautiful Dean Martin's Song

Example #3: Ella Fitzgerald - Chewing gum

OnlyJazzHQ, Published on Jan 29, 2013
...Album : « ABC Ella Fitzgerald » by « Ella Fitzgerald »
The La Sorella/La Mattiche tune begins at .35

Click for the lyrics to this Ella Fitzgerald song.

Note that Ella Fitzgerald also recorded an entirely different song about chewing gum. A sound file of that song which is entitled "Chew Chew Chew (Your Bubble Gum") is found at

Example #4: The Original Carter Family - Chewing Gum (1928).

mrblindfreddy9999, Published on Jul 1, 2014

(1800's Traditional Song From a Song Book Titled "A Collection of Favourite Songs" by Ben Maginley...Adapted by A.P.Carter 1928).

Mama sent me to the spring, she told me not to stay
I fell in love with a pretty little girl, and could not get away
Chawing chewing gum, chewing chawing gum
Chawing chewing gum, chewing chawing gum
First she give me peaches, next she give me pears
Next she give me fifty cents, kissed me on the stairs
Mommy don't 'low me to whistle, poppy don't 'low me to sing
They don't 'low me to marry, I'll marry just the same
I wouldn't have a lawyer, I'll tell you the reason why
Every time he opens his mouth he tells a great big lie
I wouldn't have a doctor, I'll tell you the reason why
He rides all over the country and makes the people die
I wouldn't have a farmer, I'll tell you the reason why
Because he has so plenty to eat, 'specially pumpkin pie
I took my girl to church last night How do you reckon she done?
She walked right up in the preacher's face and chewed her chewing gum

Recorded 10 May 1928 - (13.15 - 1600) - Victor Studio, Trinity Baptist Church, 114N. 5th St., Camden, NJ -- A.P. Sara Carter (Vcl Solo/Autoharp),Maybelle Carter (Guitar).

Alvin Pleasant (AP) Delaney Carter (1891 - 1960)
Sara Dougherty Carter (1898 - 1979)
Maybelle Addington Carter (1909 - 1978)

Maybelle was married to A.P.'s Brother EZRA CARTER who was Sara's 1st COUSIN...All three were Born & Raised in South Western Virginia

The day before the 1st Recording Session (August 1 1927) AP persuaded Sara & Maybelle to make the trip from Maces Spring VA to BRISTOL TN to Audition for Record Producer RALPH PEER who was seeking new talent.....The SESSIONS now called the BRISTOL SESSIONS included performances by JIMMIE RODGERS & 17 other Acts...They Received $50 for each song they Recorded plus half a cent Royalty on every copy sold of each song they Registered as "COPYRIGHT"...By the end of 1930 they had sold 300,000 Records in the USA....To expand his repertoire in the early 1930's AP befriended LESLIE RIDDLE a black guitar player from Kingsport TN who accompanied AP on his song Collecting trips

Elected to the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME in 1970
[June 13, 2017] This sound file and summary replace one that is no longer available.

Example #5: Bazooka-zooka dance - R&B

eleadNY, Uploaded on Aug 14, 2006

Tha Heights performing the Bazooka-zooka dance.
This version of the Bazooka Bubble Gum song is published as par of the uploader's summary

Example #6: Bazooka Ooka Bubble Gum

rbravo1080i, Uploaded on Sep 19, 2007

Girl Scout song sang by a few Brownies and one Daisy
Lyrics summary:
penny to go to Dennys [a fast food restaurant]
nickel to buy a pickle
dime to buy a lime
quarter to buy some water
dollar to buy a collar
five to stay alive [probably refers to "five dollars"]
But I don't want to stay alive instead I choked on Bazooka Bubble

My comments revised April 25, 2021:
This video & others like it on YouTube show people doing the Bazooka Bubble gum dance. That dance was featured in the television ads for this brand of bubble gum. In this video the girls are saying the rhyme in a call & response manner which isn't how I usually have heard it chanted.

Here's a link to the Bazooka Bubble Gum ads for the folkloric record:

WARNING: This video's viewer comment thread includes comments that NSFWOCV (Not suitable for work or children's viewing)
Information about the 2006 Bazooka Bubble Gum commercials whose jingle uses the "La Sorella"/La Mattiche" tune can be found on this Mudcat Cafe discussion thread that I started in 2007: [Hereafter given as Mudcat: Bubble Gum] Mudcat Cafe is an online discussion forums for Blues & Folk Music.

However, a good portion of that discussion thread focused the use of double negatives ("I don't want no"...) in that Bazooka Bubble Gum jingle. Also, some of the links cited in that discussion thread are no longer viable. Here's an excerpt of an article that isn't included in that discussion thread that provides some information about those Bazooka Bubble Gum Ads:

"Bazooka Bubble Gum was brand almost forgotten, a bubblegum that had gotten dusty. But the Bazooka Bubble Gum song was still in the back of peoples minds. So when the song got reworked by the band tha Heights, kids started singing it, recording videos and uploading them onto our Youtube. On the Bazooka Bubble gum site you could watch the huge amount of response. Result; Bazooka revived and sales went up. The brand was reborn. Duval Guillaume NY and Bazooka Bubble gum won Gold at New York festivals."
Note that rhyme versions of the "Chewin Gum" song predate the official Bazooka Bubble Gum ads. Some of those rhymes refer to "chewin' gum" or "bubble gum" and some of them specifically mention the brand name "Bazooka Bubble Gum".

Below are four text examples of chewing gum/bubble gum rhymes:
Example #1
(Example re-posted in 2004 by Jim Dixon on this Mudcat thread Chewing Gum / Choo'n Gum / Bubble Gum (rhyme source: ,a camp song website that is no longer viable)

My mother gave me a penny to see Jack Benny.
I did not see Jack Benny. I bought some bubble gum.

CHORUS: Na, na, na, na, na, bubble gum! Na, na, na, na, na, bubble gum!
Na, na, na, na, na, bubble gum! I bought some bubble gum!

My mother gave me a nickel to buy a pickle.
I did not buy a pickle. I bought some bubble gum. CHORUS

My mother gave me a dime to buy a lime.
I did not buy a lime. I bought some bubble gum! CHORUS

My mother gave me a quarter to pay the porter.
I did not pay the porter. I bought some bubble gum! CHORUS

My mother gave me a dollar to buy a collar.
I did not buy a collar. I bought some bubble gum! CHORUS

My mother gave me a spanking for buying all that bubble gum.
I did not cry a tear. I cried bubble gum!
Jack Benny (February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974) was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor..."

Click that Mudcat Cafe link cited above for additional examples of chewing gum/bubble gum song lyrics & rhymes.

Example #2
From Mudcat: Bubble Gum
Date: 13 Mar 08 - 11:29 AM

I learned "Aruba Aruba Bubble gum" at girl scout camp in NM [New Mexico] in the late 80's.

Aruba Aruba bubblegum, I love bubble gum.
My momma gave me a penny to buy some tennies.
I DID NOT BUY those tennies. I bought some BUBBLEGUM!
Aruba, aruba bubble gum. Aruba aruba bubblegum. I Love Bubble Gum.

My momma gave me a knickel to buy a pickle.
I DID NOT BUY that pickle I bought some BUBLEGUM!
Aruba, Aruba Bubble gum. Aruba, Aruba bubblegum. I Love Gum!

And so on...
"Tennies" is probably a colloquial referent for "tennis shoes" (gym shoes, sneakers). I'm not sure whether the word "tennies" was coined to rhyme with the word "pennies" or if it actually was a referent that was used for "tennis shoes". Nor am I sure if "Aruba Bubble Gum" was or is a brand name.

Example #3: Kids version of Bazooka Bubble Gum rhyme that precedes the official Bazooka Bubble Gum ad campaign in 2006

My mom gave me a penny
She said to buy a henny
But I didn't buy no henny
Instead, I bought BUBBLE GUM

My mom gave me a nickel
She said to buy a pickle
But I didn't buy no pickle
Instead, I bought BUBBLE GUM

My mom gave me a dime
She said to buy a lime
But I didn't buy no lime
Instead , I bought BUBBLE GUM

My mom gave me a quarter
She said to buy some water
But I didn't buy no water
Instead, I bought BUBBLE GUM

My mom gave me a dollar
She said to buy a collar
But I didn't buy no collar
Instead, I bought BUBBLE GUM

My mom gave me a five
She said to stay alive
But I didn't stay alive
Instead, I choked on BUBBLE GUM

i learned that one in elementary school... not sure how i remembered it! have fun... whoever needs this
- i know hand games! ; December 22, 2005 [From - This website is no longer viable]

Example #4: (official Bazooka Bubble Gum rhyme - ad campaign)

Awwww yeah!

Yo my Moms!
She gave me dollar
She told me to buy a collar
but i aint buy no collar
Instead I bought some

Bubble Gum
Bazooka-zooka BubbleGum
Bazooka-zooka BubbleGum

My Moms!
She gave me a quarter
She told me to take the porter
But I aint take no porter
I bought some


Yo my Moms!
She gave me a dime
She told me to buy a lime
But I aint buy no lime
Instead I bought some


my Moms!
She gave me a nickel
she told me to buy a pickle
But I aint buy no pickle
Instead I bought some

-Tha Heights
Transcribed by Azizi Powell from the video given above. Corrections & additions are welcome.

Thanks to all those who composed & performed the featured songs. Thanks also to those who are quoted in this post, and to those who shared their versions of this song/rhyme. Thanks also to the uploaders of these featured sound files & videos.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.


  1. The line following "My ma gave me a dollar to buy a collar" is "You shoulda heard her holler when I bought chew'n gum." This is in every version of the song that I have heard

    1. Anonymous, thanks for your comment.

      Your version of the line might be closer to the earliest versions of that line. But, I'm not sure what the original version of that line is. That said, there are versions of this line online other than the version that you remember.

  2. I'm sure I heard this song in a movie being sung by a young girl skipping to a small town while she and her family were on a summer vacation. Seems that she was also pushing a large circlular toy with a stick. I keep thinking it was in "Easy to Love" with Jane Powell, Ricardo Montalban, Debbie Reynolds, who I thought was the one I recalled seeing and hearing sing this song, Carlton Carpenter, Louis Calhern, and others. However, I've seen this movie many times on tv and it isn't in that movie. I'm wondering if was cut from the movie or if there was another similar movie and maybe even another young girl singing it in the movie. sure wish I could find it.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous March 18, 2014

      Sorry. I don't know that movie :o(

    2. I found this page after seeing the film I think you mean. It is called "Mother Wore Tights" starring Betty Grable ( In it, the youngest daughter of a Vaudeville family sings two verses of this song to entertain guests at a dull summer resort.

    3. Thanks, Anonymous March 20, 2014 for sharing that information!

      That link is

  3. Hi! My papa used to sing me this song. I always thought he learned it or it was made up in the war.
    It was a penny for candy
    Nickle for a pickle
    Dime for wine
    Quarter for water
    Dollar for hollah ( Jewish bread)

    1. Hello Unknown.

      I hadn't heard or read that version of "The Chewing Gum" rhyme before. Thanks for sharing it with us.

      I wonder if "the war" you referenced was World War II.

      Best wishes!