Saturday, August 5, 2017

Commercialized Children's Jump Rope & Hand Clap Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part pancocojams series on commercialized children's jump rope and hand clap rhymes.

Part I features an excerpt from Chapter 4: "Double Dutch And Double Cameras: Studying The Transmission of Culture In An Urban School Yard" by Anna Richman Beresin in the 1999 book Children's Folklore: A Sourcebook edited by Brian Sutton-Smith, Jay Mechling, Thomas W. Johnson, Felicia McMahon (Utah State University Press) and an excerpt of Chapter 4 "Nike, Nike, Who Can Do The Nike: New Commercialization and Scripted Exploitation" in the 2010 book Recess Battle: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling by Anna R. Beresin.

My comments about the status of the commercialized rhymes that the researcher/writer showcased are given in the Addendum to this post.

Click for Part II of this series. Part II provides an alphabetized list of selected examples of children's jump rope and hand clap rhymes that include a brand name for a product, store, or television station.

The content of this post is presented for socio-cultural and folkloric purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Anna R, Beresin for her research and her writing. Thanks also to all of the girls whose play is discussed in this excerpt and thanks to all others who are quoted in this post.
Portions of this post are included in this previous pancocojams post:
This is part of an ongoing pancocojams series on Double Dutch (jump rope) and jump roping rope in general, particularly as those activities relate to African American females.

Also, click the tags below to find other posts in this series.

Chapter 4: "Double Dutch And Double Cameras: Studying The Transmission of Culture In An Urban Shool Yard" by Ann Richman Beresin in Children's Folklore: A Sourcebook edited by Brian Sutton-Smith, Jay Mechling, Thomas W. Johnson, Felicia McMahon (Utah State University Press, 1999)

[Pancocojams Editor's Note: This chapter is quoted without citations.]

"[page] 79
...Several games were studied in this larger exploration of the folklore of the 1991-92 Mill School yard [Philadelphia Pennsylvania], including the games of the third- through fifth-grade boys. This paper, however, will serve as a window to the specific game worlds of the double dutch players. (For a complete view of the larger study, which includes handball, folk basketball, hopscotch, step dancing, and play fighting, see Beresin 1993.) Double dutch was perhaps the chief peer-led activity for African American girls at the Mill School, and provided a performance focus for a mobile audience of both girls and boys in the school yard.


[page 82]
As Cheyna, a fourth-grade African American girl had said, "Want to hear my favorite?" (Snap fingers on down beat. Accented syllables are capitalized)
Big MAC, Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE,
Milk SHAKE, Foot
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk

[page 83]
Big Mac appeared in twenty-three out of fifty-six live unrequested recordings of double dutch chants, closely followed by a follow-the-Ieader game, "Challenge Challenge, One, Two, Three." This contrasted with the rest of the active repetoire, of which two or three versions were recorded of each. First observed in mid-October, "Big Mac," and its occasional partner "Challenge Challenge," were the only chants jumped at recess until February. Most of the other rhymes did not appear at all until April. "Big Mac" represented forty percent of all the songs sung for double dutch, with "Challenge Challenge" representing thirty percent.The remainder totaled three to six percent, tallying another thirty percent. "Big Mac" was therefore not only the first jump-rope rhyme to appear in the school yard and not only the most frequently jumped, but, as we will see, also the one used for learning how to play the game of double dutch itself.

Collectors of jump-rope games have typically emphasized the antiquity of the games and rhymes, in part because of the archive methodology available, as discussed, and in part because of the inherent romance in finding things old. Paradoxically, the most significant rhyme for the players of this game was the newest one, invented by the McDonald's Corporation as a menu chant. Again and again the local jump-rope experts-the third, fourth, and fifth-grade girls-claimed that the "Big Mac" rhyme was commercial and approximately ten years old, but that the game was learned from their mothers and sisters. The dating of this particular chant was confirmed by the national public-relations office of the McDonald's Corporation, which indicated that the menu chants are periodically placed in local papers as part of a contest. It is significant that McDonald's has been a national sponsor of double dutch competitions since the late 1970s and that the only other long commercial text that emerged was in an interview setting: This was "R-E-E-B-O-K do your footsies the Reebok way." Reebok is also a national sponsor of double dutch competitions. All of the new attempts at double dutch recorded in the school yard were done to the "Big Mac" rhyme. When Isha, a fifth-grade expert jumper, was asked what was the easiest rhyme, she answered, "Challenge Challenge," because "you just had to imitate what was done before you." When asked why the younger girls and the ones new to double dutch started with "Big Mac," she answered, "Because they don't have nothing else." Commercial culture is, for the kids of the school yard, the most basic of common culture. The commercial is easily learned: It's short, it's quick, and it's "fun in the mouth." Children who are bused in from all sections of the city know it, and children from all economic levels have access to it. It may have been introduced by the corporate-sponsored leagues and ad campaigns and may be a future classic example of the "invention of tradition" (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983), but it would not have continued if it did not serve some function.... recess period that allows only fifteen minutes for play in this city.

In an environment where raw materials are inaccessible and consistently removed from the play time, it appears that the African American children from poorer neighborhoods, rich with oral traditions, are teaching non-African American children what can be done, as Isha says, "when you don't hanve nothing else". This is especially true of the play of girls, which is especially repressed in the school yard by the institution of school itself. Here it is commercial culture that is the common denominator, both within the ethnic tradition and across ethnic traditions.

One of the most relevant texts on this topic is Newell's 1883 book Games And Songs Of American Children. His essays "The Inventiveness Of Children" and "The Conservatism Of Children" address the dynamics inherent in the play study, the idea of play being both traditional and transitional, and the idea that children reconstruct and reinvent performances relevant to their complex lives. The key word is "relevant". Valuable things are reused, recycled and retold. And, as we will see, the repetition of the commercial rhyme may be fixed, but the variation and frequency of the game can be found in the foot work. In a sense, the folklorist begins with the text, but cannot stop there."...

from Recess Battle: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling by Anna R. Beresin (University Press of Mississippi, Jackson; 2010)

[Pancocojams Editor's Note: This book is quoted without citations. The underlined portions of the rhymes are as they were given in the chapter and represent the accented beat of the rhyme.]

"[page 64]
....Many traditional double-dutch songs list specific steps in order, and the commercial ones utilize the old formulas well:

footsies - two basic running steps with one small two-footed bounce
hopsies - one foot hopping
bouncies - two footed small jumps
turnsies - a complete rotation while inside the two turning ropes
walksies - basic running step
criss - crossing both legs repeated while jumping

At times multiple players jump at the same time, and jumpers often improvise, adding fancy turns and gestures while increasing the speed and duration of the jumping. The game was studied by the Mill School's [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] seven-year-olds and perfected by the twelve-year-olds....

These new rhymes were slick jump rope games, emerging from jump rope competitions, sponsored by the "Big Three" corporations whose names were in the jingles- Nike, Reebok, and McDonalds.

The children who jumped rope spoke these words every day, over and over, each time I observed in 1991, 1992, and 2004. Unlike earlier generations which parodied commercials during play, the Mill School girls repeated the jingles verbatim, though the children were not robots. They

[page 65]
concentrated on moving their own way, adding fancy jumps, turns, and twists, leaning on an older tradition for variation.They parodied each others' styles, exaggerated gestures, rolled their eyes at each other, and burst out laughing. Movement offers commentary when the words make little room for it-assuming the players are allowed to move.

This chapter introduces the new commercially scripted jump rope rhymes, which have yet to be published anywhere , and makes a case for paying attention to their increased popularity. One the one hand, they squeeze out older, bolder, more subversively dreamy traditional rhymes; on the other hand, the children utilize traditional style and turn the advertisements into what they really are- a big game.

The games with commercial texts were consistently used to teach outsiders the African American art of double-dutch. They are the "easiest", the students said, "our favorite" . "It's what you use when you don't have nothing else".


Nike Nike
Who can do the Nike?
Foot to the N-I-K-E
Hop to the N-I-K-E
Walk to the N-I-K-E
Bounce to the N-I-K-E
Turn to the N-I-K-E
Criss to the N-I-K-E
(1992, 2004)


Do your footsies the Reebok way
Do your hopsies the Reebok way
Do your footsies the Reebok way
Do your walksies the Reebok way
Do your bouncies the Reebok way
Do your turnsies the Reebok way
Do your crisses the Reebok way
(1992, 2004)

[page 66]
Big Mac [Version 1]

Big Mac, Filet o' Fish
Quarter Pounder Frenchie Fries
Icee Coke, milk shake foot

Filet o' Fish
Quarter Pounder Frenchie Fries
Icee Coke, milk shake bounce

Filet o' Fish
Quarter Pounder Frenchie Fries
Icee Coke, milk shake hop

Filet o' Fish
Quarter Pounder Frenchie Fries
Icee Coke, milk shake turn

Filet o' Fish
Quarter Pounder Frenchie Fries
Icee Coke, milk shake criss

Filet o' Fish
Quarter Pounder Frenchie Fries
Icee Coke, milk shake walk
(1991, 1992, 1999, 2004)

Big Mac (Version 2)

Big Mac, Filet o' Fish shake and fries
She's a mean mama honey and that's no lie
McDonald's got footsies play that beat
McDonald's got hopsies.
(1992, 1999)

[page 67]
Challenge, Challenge/Big Mac/Hey Consolation Medley
(Challenge is a competitive follow-the-leader game)

Challenge, challenge
1,2,3,4,5,6,7.8, 9, 10

Big Mac, Filet o’ Fish foot
And bounce
And hop
And turn
And walk
And criss

Hey consolation
Where have you been?
Around the corner, and back again
Stole my money
Knocked my honey
Papa’s go the hiccups
Mama’s got the ice
So come on baby
Let’s slice that ice

2, 4, 6, 8, 10 hop
2,4,6,8,10 turn
2, 4, 6, 8, 10 criss
2,4,6,8,10 turn walk
(1991, 1992, 1999, 2004)

Only one song mixes modern commentary, traditional moves, and commercial messages.** Although it mentions specific corporations, it is not a simple advertisement. The first two lines come from a rap by recording artist KRS-One, but the rest of the Mill School’s version diverges from the original yet stays true to its message of confidence. Tashi and Naisha gave it special status., and its words were sung with an eye twinkle. This one was different. It is complex in its layering of street competition, sarcasm. And African American traditional foot work. In this sense, it is much more than a traditional singing game.

[page 68]
Criminal Minded [Version 1]

Criminal minded, you've been blinded
Looking for a shoe like mine, can't find it

Mine cost more
Yours cost less
Mine Footlocker
Yours Payless

So criminal minded
Foot, you got it
So criminal minded
Foot, you got it
So criminal minded
Hop, you got it
So criminal minded
Walk, you got it
So criminal minded
Criss, you got it

Criminal Minded [Version 2]
Criminal minded, you've been blinded
Looking for a shoe like mine, can't find it

Mine cost more
Yours cost less
Mine Footlocker
Yours Payless

Do your footsies, 1, 2, and three
And your hopsies, 1, 2, and three
And your bouncies, 1, 2, and three
And your walksies, 1, 2, and three
And your turnsies, 1, 2, and three
And your crisses, 1, 2, and three

[page 69]
In 1992, twenty-three of the fifty-six rope rhymes performed (41 per cent) had commercial themes; in 1999, that figure had risen to twenty-six percent, included all the older traditional rhymes. “Big Mac” was heard daily from 1991 through 1999 an into 2004, while “Reebox” and Nike” gradually made their way into the mainstream rope repertoire. I was shocked not only by their prevalence but by their dramatic increase over time. Rope was not more popular in 1999-there were always several games going on simultaneously. The commercial texts were now more popular.

[page 70]
The commercial texts became new bridges between neighborhoods, social classes, and ethnicities. …
These commercial rhymes are also qualitatively different from the commercial parodies of the 1970s.

McDonald’s is our kind of place
They feed you rattlesnakes
Hamburgers up your nose
French fries between your toes

The next time you go there
They’ll steal your underwear
McDonald’s is our kind of place

McDonald’s is your kind of place
Hamburgers in your face
French fires up your nose
Ketchup between your toes
McDonald’s your kind of place
Ain’t got no parking space
McDonald’s your kind of place.

Winston taste good like a cigarette should
No filter, no taste, just a fifty cents waste

Winston taste bad like the last on I had
No filter, no flavor, just plain toilet paper

Oh! I wish I wasn’t an Oscar Meyer Weiner
That’s what I wouldn’t want to be
Because if I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener
There would soon be nothin’ left of me.

[page 71]
...Given the volume of commercial messages presented to children via television and radio, on billboards and storefronts, on clothing and food items, it is not surprising to find commercial texts increasingly prevalent in children’s lore. But this phenomenon represents more than just a repository of larger cultural images. Some commercials are emerging right in the classroom.

Channel 1 is the commercially driven television show that advertises directly in classrooms on a daily basis. The well-publicized deal allows poor schools across the country gain access to free media technology in exchange for permitting students to view advertising in the classroom. [10] . Channel 1, and every morning Channel 1’s “news” and “entertainment” shows could be heard drifting down the hallway/ The commercial songs in the school yard are reinforced not only by the commercial breaks between segments of shows but by the characters in the educational programs. “I sure could go for a cheeseburger”, said the story’s happy lion. The forth-graders take in everything-story, burger, and bun.

The terms of the Mill School’s contract with Channel 1 required administrators to play the commercially sponsored “educational” programs every school day. No matter how large the generosity of Channel 1, the Ronald McDonald House, or Nike’s Project PLAY (a $10 million sport and playground program), the agenda is to fill children’s bodies with the McDonald’s- approved diet and cover them with Nike-approved footwear. [11]. These acts of charity can be seen as at best assuaging corporate guilt and at worst as image manipulation.

McDonald’s representatives confirmed to me that the Bug Mac chant had arisen from a campaign conducted in the advertising inserts included

[page 72]
with Sunday newspapers. I received a copy of the record, which was designed to look like a jukebox and presented the “menu chant” version as a mock lesson:
Good Morning, Class.
Today we’re going to learn the McDonald’s Menu Song and give a listener out there a chance to win a million dollars. So repeat after me: Big Mac, Filet o’ fish….

At the end of the recording, nobody wins. Only the teacher can properly say the Big Mac rhyme.

McDonald’s, Reebok, and Nike each sponsor national double-dutch competitions. Coaches of local double-dutch leagues long for corporate sponsorship of their underfunded community programs. The corporate sponsorship supports the double-dutch leagues, which in their professionalism require uniforms and sneakers. And this corporate largesse comes with corporate jingles.

But these campaigns ask poor children to purchase what they cannot afford. Black children, who make up the majority of Philadelphia’s poor and the majority of the Mill School’s student body, are double exploited; poor black, female children are triply exploited. [11]...

[page 73]
In light of the recognition that comes with sound and motion, each sneaker conversation and each jump rope jingle is money in the bank for Nike, McDonald’s, or Reebok. Like the Coca-Cola logo painted on the bottom of Philadelphia’s public swimming pools, and stenciled onto the backboards of recreation centers basketball hoops, the school yard becomes a television screen for agenda that is not that of the children or the school and that benefits no one in the school region with a livable wage....

Commercial games have become a new tradition, simultaneously old and brand-new, that is embedded in the folkloric process of cultural recycling and fueled by industry...

[page 74]
Like jazz before them, hip-hop and school yard rhymes are misunderstood, underappreciated, and eaten up by racialized commercial interests beyond their control. [18] Sociologist Juliet Schor take us further: “Although many aspects of African American culture have had a long historical association with cool, such as jazz and sartorial styles as well as a legacy of contributions to popular culture, what is happening now is unique. Never before have inner-city styles and cultural practices been such as dominant influence on, even a definer of popular culture. [I]n the words of Douglas Holt again…it is now the context itself- the neighborhood, the pain of being poor, the alienation experience of black kids. These are the commodifiable assests.” [19]

But Naisha and Tashi have their own list of commodifiable assets. They require that as song be aesthetically pleasing, that it have an interesting rhythm, that it be familiar enough that it is immediately obvious what to do, that it allow for skill-serious skill- to be displayed, and that it be fast. The can mix and match movement styles with prefabricated texts, and if they have the freedom, they can make medleys all of their own....*

ADDENDUM: My comments about the "commercialized rhymes" that were quoted from Recess Battle: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling by Anna R. Beresin (University Press of Mississippi, Jackson; 2019)

The "Nike" and "Reebok" rhymes don't appear to be found anywhere but the Recess Battle book. There's no other online citation for either of these rhymes. Also, for what it's worth, I've never come across either of these rhymes in my direct collection (among mostly African American girls and boys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area- which is about four and a half hours away from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I haven't found any other example of "Big Mac" [Version 1 or Version 2] as they are given in the Recess Battles book. However, there are countless versions of the rhyme "Big Mac", in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and throughout the United States (and probably throughout much of the world, thanks to the internet, travelers, missionaries, etc.) However, "Big Mac" appears to be most often referred to as "Welcome To McDonalds", and also appears to be most often played as a two person hand clap game. My guess is that most children and teenagers don't even know that "Welcome To McDonalds" (aka "Big Mac") used to be a jump rope rhyme.

As somewhat of an aside, the line "She's a mean mama honey and that's no lie in "Big Mac" [Version #2] is adapted from the 1981 hit R&B song "She's a Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked)" by Carl Carlton.,_She%27s_Stacked)

I have found four* other examples of the rhyme "Hey Consolation" that is given as part of "Challenge Challenge". Those other examples use the word "Hey Concentration" instead of "Hey Consolation". Click for one example of that rhyme.

The beginning lines of the "Hey Consolation" portion of the "Challenge Challenge" rhyme and the "Hey Concentration" rhymes ose rhymes are lifted from "Hambone Hambone" ("Where you been/round the world/ and back again) song/rhyme.

A pancocojams post that features "Hey Consolation"/"Hey Concentration" rhymes will be published soon, and that link will be added here.

* [Update: 8/7/2017] *I just received another example of this rhyme via email from Nina Gonzalez, Jersey City, New Jersey. Thanks, Nina!!]

The first two lines of "Criminal Minded You've Been Blinded" rhyme are adapted almost word for word from the KRS-One's hit Hip Hop record with that title: "Criminal minded, you've been blinded/Lookin', for a style like mine you can't find it".

I wasn't aware of the "Criminal Minded" rhyme until I read it in this book. I'm looking online for examples of it. If I find any examples or mention of this rhyme (and not the Hip Hop song), I'll update this post.

It's interesting that the researcher only cites the "Criminal Minded" rhyme in 1999 and 2004. The KRS_One record was first released in 1987. It seems likely that that rhyme was known to the double dutch jumpers prior to it being documented in 1999.

"Footlocker" is a somewhat upscale store that sells tennis shoes (sneakers) and other sports products. "Payless" is a discount shoe store. That rhyme might not be "subversive", but it fits the self-bragging/dissing pattern of many other African American children's rhymes as well as the self-bragging/opponent dissing styles of Blues and Hip Hop genres.

UPDATE: August 6, 2017
A reference to the double dutch rhyme "Criminal Minded" is given in the chapter: “Double Forces Has Got The Beat: Reclaiming Girl’s Music In The Sport of Double- Dutch" by Kyra D. Gaunt in the 2011 book The Girls' History and Culture Reader: The Twentieth Century , edited by Miriam Forman-Brunell and Leslie Paris (University of Illinois Press).

Here's that quote:
"Around 1999, I watched two sisters (one nine and the other thirteen, assisted by a neighborhood friend) perform a series of double-dutch game songs in their home in Philly. They had rolled back the living room carpet with their mother’s permission, despite their father’s rule: no jumping rope in the house.
As they performed their repertoire, Candance, the older sister, kept complaining to her younger sister Bridgette, that she really didn’t really learn her “turnsies” right. Interestingly, the rap “Criminal Minded” by urban poet and recording artists KRS-One was the basis of their play. The opening lyrics of that rap song were more or less the same lyrics that opened their game song:
Criminal minded, you’ve been blinded
Lookin for a style like mine, you can’t find it.
I plan to publish a brief except of that chapter on pancocojams as part of this blog's ongoing series on double dutch jump rope.

I believe that it's important to note that R&B/Hip Hop music was a vital, creative, and important source for double dutch rhymes and other categories of children's rhymes that are included in Anna R. Beresin's Recess Battles book (such as hand clap rhymes, and what she calls "steps" and I call "foot stomping cheers". I've found R&B/Hip Hop record to be sources of many of the rhymes and cheers that I've directly collected and that I've found on the internet (particularly on YouTube discussion threads and other social media sites.)

I should also note that, in contrast to most of the double dutch rhymes that Ms. Beresin documented in her Recess Battles book, I've found a number of the hand clap rhymes and some of the "steps" that she included in her book in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and those same hand clap rhymes and "steps" are also somewhat widely found on the internet.

I plan to publish a pancocojams post on the "steps" that are documented in Ms. Beresin's Recess Battle book and I'll add that link to this post when it is published .

This concludes Part I of this pancocojams series on commercialized children's jump rope rhymes & hand clap rhymes.

All of the rhymes that were quoted in this post as well as some additional rhymes are included in Part II of this pancocojams series.

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