Monday, October 7, 2013

"Mama's Having A Chocolate Baby" Line In Fudge Fudge Call The Judge Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides examples and my analysis of the playground rhyme "Fudge Fudge Call The Judge" which contain a form of the line "Mama's having a chocolate baby". As such, this post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series on race in contemporary English language playground rhymes.

This post also serves as a companion to this previous pancocojams consideration of some other "Fudge Fudge Call The Judge" rhymes:

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, recreational, and sociological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

These examples are presented in no particular order. The "chocolate baby" line is written in italics to highlight it. Like other examples of Fudge Fudge Call The Judge, the following examples probably were performed early on as jump rope rhymes [notice the references to "miss" and "out"]. However, like so many jump rope rhymes, at least since the 1980s, partner handclaps is probaby the usual performance activity for these rhymes.

Example #1:
Yeah, so me and my sister sat on the phone last night trying to remember some more chants. I know, I need a life.

Fudge, Fudge, Fudge
Let's go tell the Judge
Mama's gonna have a baby
A cute little chocolate baby
If it's a boy, I'll give it a toy
If it's a girl, I'll give it a curl
Wrap it up in tissue paper,
throw it down the elevator :eek: (We used to say that?!?)
First floor STOP
Ba doom doom doom
Second floor STOP
Ba doom doom doom
Third floor you'd betta watch out
'Cuz here comes the lady with the big boom bop.
-Bamboozled,, March 36, 2003
-The participants in this discussion were members of historically Black Greek lettered sororities.

"A cute little chocolate baby" is a positive description of thee baby regardless of what chocolate means in that line. BUT the rhyme clearly indicates a strong preference for a brother than for a sister- a boy gets a toy, the girl gets a curl and then the rhymer speaks about throwing her down the elevator. Assuming that the voice is this rhyme is a girl, she could prefer the boy baby to the girl because she might think that another girl would be more likely to compete with her for her parent's affection.

Example #2:
ABC, easy as 123,
my daddy drank Cocafee(don’t ask what that is) right off of my feet.
That’s how nasty people can be.
Judge, judge, call the judge!
Mama’s gonna have a baby,
a sweet little choc-o-late baby!
If it’s a boy, I’ll give it a toy.
If it’s a girl, I’ll give it a curl.
If it’s a twin, I’ll give them a spin.
Wrap it up in toilet paper,
Send it down the elevator.
First floor, STOP.
Second floor, STOP.
And then it would just go on until someone screwed it up….usually me.
"A sweet little choc-o-late baby!" is a positive description that is emphasized by the addition of the exclamation point.

I don't have racial demographics or any other demographical information for this blogger.

"ABC sasy as 123" is commonly found as a beginning line in a number of African American derived playground rhymes. That phrase is lifted from The Jackson 5 song entitled "ABC". The line "That’s how nasty people can be" is a play on the line "That's how easy love can be".

Click for a video of that song.

As an aside, I've read that "my daddy drank Cocafee" lyrics -but not that ending of that line- in several other playground rhymes. I believe that "Cocafee" means "coffee".

Example #3:
Mamas having a baby
a big fat chocolate baby
if its a girl i'll give it a curl
if its a boy i'll give it a toy
if its twins i'll wrap it up and throw it down the escalator
First floor... stop
Second floor... stop
Third floor...stop
Turn around touch the ground
everybody say it now freeze!

(then u freeze and the first one to move is out)
In the context of the rest of this example, and since children usually consider "big and fat" to be negative descriptors, I think it's likely that the word "chocolate" in this example is also considered negatively.

“Turn around touch the ground” is a floating verse in African American derived playground rhymes. However, I have no way of knowing whether that blogger is Black or non-Black.

Example #4:
Fudge, fudge call the judge
Mama's got a new-born baby.
It ain't vanilla
It ain't coconut
It's just a chocolate baby.
Wrap it up in tissue paper
Throw it down the chutee
First floor: Miss
Second floor: Miss
Third floor: Out the door.
Everybody out.

Where learned: Michigan, Detroit*
Date learned: 10-02-1971
*No other demographical information was given.

This example was written in capital letters & paragraph format with slashes separating the lines. I converted it to line formation & lower case letters except for the beginning letter of each line in order to conform with the other text on this post.

In this example "chocolate" probably refers to a flavor, and is clearly considered to be less desirable that the other flavors mentioned: vanilla & coconut. The probable negative connotation of "chocolate" in this example contrasts with the positive descriptors given to "chocolate baby" in Examples #1 and #2.

"Vanilla" has been used as a synonym for "White" (White people) as in George Clinton's 1975 Funk hit song "Chocolate City", in which he praises Chccolate City [CC, Washington D.C.] and its vanilla suburbs. However, I don't think "chocolate", "vanilla", or "coconut" in the above children's rhyme are synonyms for races or skin colors. Instead, I think that those words refer to the favorite and least favorite flavors of the child who is speaking in that rhyme.

I've made no attempt to substantiate these speculations about the meaning of "chocolate baby" in certain examples of the rhyme "Fudge Fudge Call The Judge". One child who chants this line can have a different meaning for that referent than another child who chants it. Repeating the words that were learned for that rhyme, keeping on the beat, and correctly performing any accompanying movements are much more important than the meanings of the rhymes' words. Therefore, it's possible or even probable that children chanting this rhyme may have no conscious thought about the meaning of the "chocolate baby" referent.

Possible meanings for the word "chocolate" in the referent "chocolate baby" are:
1. "Chocolate baby" means a brown skinned baby.
Consider the use of "Chocolate city" as a nickname for Washington D.C. That nickname was given to that city because-until 2011, that city had a predonminately Black population. Click for an article about the impact of the changing racial demographics in D.C. (Washington, D.C.).

Also, note this post title published by a Black expectant mother: "Hey chocolate baby mamas!"

2. Chocolate is a referent to flavors of ice cream or a type of candy. See Example #4, for instance, for clear preferences for vanilla and coconut over chocolate. That clear preference alludes to the dislike the child in that rhyme feels about the addition of a new sibling into his or her family.

However, a chocolate baby might [also] mean a baby as sweet as chocolate.

3. "Chocolate" in the referent "chocolate baby" refers to "poop".
While this meaning fits the sentiments of rhyme in which the person is much less than happy about the arrival of a new baby or babies in her or his family.

it's likely that this rhyme has its source in the old American folk song "What'll I Do With the Baby-O?". Here's a clip of the lyrics to one version of that song:

What'll we do with the baby?
What'll we do with the baby?
What'll we do with the baby-o?
We'll wrap it up in calico,
Wrap it up in calico,
And send it to it's pappy-o.

Source: Sharp's EFSSA No 228
Mrs. Alice Wilson Pineville, Ky. 1917
Hat tip to blogger Richie who wrote the following comment about that song on a Mudcat discussion thread:
"This may be the earliest collected version of "What'll We Do With the Baby?" from Cecil Sharp. The "What'll We Do With the Baby?" songs are part of the song family that includes "Prettiest Gal in the County-O" and "Sugar in my Coffee-O." All three songs originate indirectly from "Dandy Jim From Caroline" and similar parodies from the 1800's."
-, January 18, 2007
Visit that Mudcat thread for more examples of the folk song "What'll We Do With The Baby".
Click for a sound file of that song.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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