During a recent Republican presidential primary debate, candidate John Kasich ridiculed his opponents’ competing over-the-top tax cuts (my tax cut’s bigger than yours): “Why don’t we just give a chicken in every pot, while we’re coming up with these fantasy tax schemes,” he said. This was, of course, an allusion to a much earlier presidential campaign in which Republicans running Herbert Hoover promised a chicken for every pot and a car in every garage. Although the statement has been hung like an albatross around poor Hoover’s neck, he never actually said it himself; it appeared in a Republican party flyer on October 20, 1928.

chickenpouleThe Republicans did not coin the phrase, however. That honor goes to King Henry the IV of France (Republicans quoting a Frenchman, my, my) who some 400 years earlier said: “Je veux qu’il ait si pauvere paysan en mon royaume qu’il n’ait tous les diamaches sa poule au pot.” Translation: “I wish that there would not be a peasant so poor in all my realm who would not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” A little wordy, but he was the king. Le bon roi Henri came to be known as le Roi de la poule au pot or King of the Chicken in the Pot. Much as the 1928 presidential candidate came to be known as the Hoover of the Chicken in the Pot. This was probably the result of his opponent Al Smith continually ridiculing the statement while holding up a rubber chicken (Okay, he actually held up a copy of the flyer, but a rubber chicken would have been better.)

chickrubbAs so often happens in campaigns, the statement got inflated to a chicken, a bunch of vegetables, two cars in every garage, a gasoline card and silk stockings.

Hoover’s actual campaign slogans were the rather uninspiring “Who but Hoover” and “Hoover and Happiness Or Smith And Soup Houses,” in spite of which he won the election. During his single term in office, the Great Depression got underway, an irony Hoover probably did not appreciate.

Hoover died on October 20, 1964, and was buried with a rubber chicken (actually that’s an unsubstantiated rumor).

Inspirational Quote for 10/20/16


One thought on “October 20, 1928: And a Pot for Every Chicken

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