Monday, November 3, 2014

The "A Biscuit" Refrain In "Down Down Baby" & Certain Other Playground Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

Here's an excerpt of a cocojams2 blog post on the use of the words "a biscuit" as a refrain in some playground rhymes:

"A number of playground rhymes include the refrain "a biscuit" or a folk processed form of those words. As a result of my curiousity about the source of that "a biscuit" phrase in those playground rhymes, I've come up with the theory that the "a biscuit" refrain is a folk processed form of the words "a trisket". The words "a trisket" words were popularized by the Jazz song "A Trisket A Tasket". That said, from the rhyme examples that I've found, it appears that the "a biscuit" refrain wasn't included in "Down Down Baby" and other rhymes until the 1970s. And rhyme examples that mention "Ronald McDonald" couldn't have been created before 1963 when that McDonald's mascot was first created.

I'd love to know if anyone remembers chanting a rhyme with "a biscuit" used as a refrain prior to the 1970s.

My guess is that when they are used as a refrain, the words "a biscuit" may not have originally had anything to do with the food named "biscuit". That said, in some "a biscuit" refrain rhymes those words appear to refer an actual "biscuit"- for instance in some examples of those rhymes the lines go: "I have a boyfriend/a biscuit/He is as sweet as/a biscuit".
-end of quote-
Notice that the example given below omits the word "as":

"I've got a boyfriend, a biscuit/ He's so-oo sweet, a biscuit".

UPDATE: May 31, 2016
That cocojams2 post on a biscuit refrain rhymes contains fifteen examples. Here are some examples that I didn't include in that post: I've assigned numbers for referencing purposes only.

1. & 2.
Kisha, "Old School Chants, 04-02-2003*
Domino, Domino, Domino biscuit
Ooh chi chi wa wa a biscuit
Kisha’s gotta lover a biscuit
He’s so sweet a biscuit
Like a cherry tree a biscut
Ice cream soda ginger ale pop
Hop on the initial of your sweetheart


Kisha’s got a lover a biscuit
He’s so sour a biscuit
Needs to take a shower a biscuit
Posters to this blog thread were members of historically Black Greek letter sororities. I think that this example was performed as a hand clap rhyme.

Although no dates are given for most of their comments, from some other things that were mentioned, such as just completing university, my guess is that these "old school chants" are from the early 1980s to the mid 1980s. For instance, although one blogger gave a sub-heading for her post of "the 70s", three bloggers shared examples of a Coca Cola ad jingle ("Have A Coke And A Smile" that aired in 1981. Also, one blogger mentioned her age in 2003 as 23 years old, another blogger indicated that she remembered the rhyme she shared "from the 1985-ish Houston [Texas], and another rhyme included the slang word "fly" which gained popularity because of the 1995 Boogie Boy's record "Fly Girl".

From mal'occhiom "Hand clapping games", Posted 18 November 2010

"I can only remember the down down baby one, our version went like this

Ronald McDonald, ooh ahh a biscuit
Ronald McDonlad, ooh ahh a biscuit
A-shishi-wa-wa, a biscuit
I've got a boyfriend, a biscuit
He's so-oo sweet, a biscuit

Sweeter than an ice-cream, cherry on top
Sweeter than an ice-cream, cherry on top

Down down baby, down down the rollercoaster
Sweet sweet baby, I'll never let you go

Shimmy shimmy cocopop, shimmy shimmy wow!
Shimmy shimmy cocopop, shimmy shimmy pow!

I can't believe that I remember all that!!"

From ThisIsMabelPines, Posted 12 February 2014, "Hand clapping games"

I know this one has already done it, but I do another one at my school, it goes -

Ronald McDonald, Biscuit
Ronald McDonald, Biscuit
I-cee-cee-I, Biscuit,
He's such a cute little biscuit,

Ice cream sunday with a cherry ontop

And thats as much as I remember

5. From Kassandra Vasquez, 2014,

From samantha fox, 2015,
the version i sing is:
Ronald Mcdonald, a biscuit, Ronald McDoanald, a biscuit, i got a boyfriend a biscuit he's so sweet as a biscuit, ice cream cherry with the cherry on the top, ice cream cherry with the cherry on the bottom, down down baby down by the roller coaster sweet sweet baby i'd never let u go, shimmy shimmy coconut shimmy shimmy up, shimmy shimmy coconut shimmy shimmy down, shimmy shimmy coconut shimmy shimmy bow wow whoop cow. PLUS i call it Ronald Mc Donald

Click "A Tisket A Tasket" (information, lyrics, and video). That post includes quotes from online sources that indicate that the words "tisket" and "tasket" were made up to rhyme with the word "basket" and those words weren't given any meaning.

Some of the exanples in that cocojams2 blog post were featured on my cultural website that was online since December 2001. That website vanished late October 2014 [!?!) and I am partially recreating its playground rhymes pages from back-up files and from recent internet "rhyme harvesting". That's the story behind this blog name "cocojams2".

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. That video is pretty dead on to what I played in the 70s except it doesnt have the "altogether with the chicken n the feather" and the "P-O-P spells Pop!" The "Lets get the rhythm portion" we usually sang while playing double dutch. A-biscuit was a dfferent much hand clapping game. Much harder that the older girls played. Domino domino domino A-biscuit! Oooo chi-chi-wa-wa A-biscuit! How do you like my lover a-Biscuit! He's so fine-ah. A-biscuit! Just like a cherry wine-uh A-biscuit. A tisket Atasket was a different song altogether although Triscuit did use the Ella song in the 70s as an ad campaign.

    1. Thanks anonymous for your comment.

      If I understand that comment, some lines from the rhymes that I shared in the post were part of different playground games, some double dutch (jump rope) and some hand clapping games. And the "A Tisket A Tasket" was a [Jazz] song that was popularized by Ella Fitzgerald which was used in an ad for Triscuit crackers.

      Here's the A Biscuit rhyme example that you shared in line format:
      Domino domino domino A-biscuit!
      Oooo chi-chi-wa-wa A-biscuit!
      How do you like my lover a-Biscuit!
      He's so fine-ah. A-biscuit!
      Just like a cherry wine-uh A-biscuit
      You mentioned that you know these games from the 1970s and that the ones who played the "A Biscuit" hand clap game were "older girls".

      For the folkloric record, I'd love to know where (city/state) this example comes from and what race/ethnicity the girls were.

      Thanks again!

    2. --snip--
      Now repeat, After me
      Ice cream - ice cream
      Soda Pop, soda pop
      Ginger ale - ginger ale
      Do your thing
      Take an A B C D E F G
      Take H I J K L M N O P
      Now Smooch - ahh
      Now Smooch -ahh
      And FREEZE!

    3. Thanks for sharing your member of that rhyme Anonymous December 16, 2015. I'm assuming that what you wrote is said after a beginning part of a rhyme that includes the phrase "a biscuit".

      I'm assuming that you're not the same blogger as Anonymous May 12, 2015 at 11:01 PM. If that's so, I'd love to know what came before the "now repeat after me" line in that rhyme.

  2. Ms. Powell - I am the "December 16" commenter. My post continues the rhyme from your May 13 post (or actually the May 12 post)- I remember that first part exactly the same, "a biscuit" and all. I grew up in the 1970s in Long Island, NY in a predominantly caucasian community with a significant African American population. The African American girls always sang songs and rhymes on the playground that none of the caucasian kids knew. In early 80s high school the boys introduced us to hip hop - I am certain we were exposed to hip hop long before the kids in neighboring communities.

    1. Thanks Anonymous for that clarification.

      I really appreciate you sharing demographical information and sharing your memories of learning playground songs and rhymes from African American girls.

      My experiences as a collector of American (USA) playground rhymes confirms that race is often a factor in which playground rhymes or songs (or which versions of rhymes/songs) are performed and how they are performed. In addition, the meaning of some words that originate/d among African Americans may not be known by a number of non-African Americans. Since news words are constantly being introduced from African American and other populations and older words are often retired or their meanings change, it's great that resources such as the internet are available to help explain and correct information.

      Best wishes, Anonymous Jan. 1, 2016 and Happy New Year!

  3. My mother is always singing "Oooo Chihuahua biscuit! Domino, Domino, Domino biscuit!" For years I've been trying to figure out what song it is or where it came from. She says it's something they sang as a kid while playing a clapping game. I read her the other versions from the article and comment and she got such a kick out of it. Thanks for sharing this information. - Marissa of Texas

    1. Hello, Marissa of Texas.

      Thanks for sharing your mother's example of "A Biscuit" in playground rhymes.

      I'm glad to add it to the other examples that are featured here.

      Best wishes to you and your mother!

  4. For some reason we said "football" instead of "biscuit." That was in Ky in the late 70s-early 80s in a white-black school.

    1. Thanks for sharing that information with demographics, anonymous.

      It's no telling why people started saying "biscuit" or "football" or any other item. :o)

  5. Hi we used to sing the biscuits song in the late 70's early 80's...
    Domino domino domino a biscuit
    Ooh chi chi wa wa a biscuit
    How do you like my lover a biscuit
    He's so fine ya a biscuit
    Just like cherry wine ya a biscuit
    Now repeat after me
    Ice cream Ice cream
    Soda pop Soda Pop
    Ginger ale Ginger ale
    Do your thing
    Take a A B C D E F G
    Take a H I J K L M N O P
    Take a smooth chop
    Take a smooth chop
    and please don't show your teeth

    1. Thanks for sharing that example, unknown.

      The last line was new to me. :o)

      If you're reading this reply, I'd love to know what city you lived in when you sang this song, and whether it was while jumping rope or doing hand claps (It appears to me that the activity for these rhymes changed from jump rope to hand claps around the 1960s or 1970s).

      Thanks again!

  6. Mine was from the 60's (I was born in 1962). There was no Ronald McDonald in ours. It was close to what you had in the 2nd one, only it started with your name. So if your name was Pamela (I remember playing with Pamela), it went:

    ♫"Pamela, Pamela, Pamela. A biscuit
    Pamela, Pamela, Pamela. A biscuit.
    I know a guy. A biscuit.
    He is so sweet. A biscuit.
    Like a cherry(?) treat. A biscuit.
    Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop. Shimmy, shimmy, POW!"♫

    Btw, I will be 56 this year. I come from Queens, New York and I am African American.

    Plus, I went to Ghana West Africa in 1995 and a little girl came over to me. We couldn't speak because unlike many Ghanaians, she didn't speak English, and I hadn't learned Twi in preparation for the trip like I was supposed to. She reached out her hands and we did this rhyme, and Miss Mary Mack. The crazy thing is, now I see you have all these variations. What she did was pretty close to mine.

    1. Hello, Patricia Heath.

      Thanks for sharing that version of "A Biscuit" and remembering to include when and where you learned it.

      Thanks also for sharing your experience of the Ghanaian girl reciting an "A Biscuit" rhyme and Miss Mary Mack.

      One of the ways that children learn English or have their English as a second (or third, or fourth...) language reinforced is through English language recreational rhymes. But it's remarkable that the version of that rhyme that she knew was very close to the version that you knew.

      One love!