Senryu : Tummy Tuesday : pumpernickel

pumpernickel bread
why is it called “goblin’s fart”?
eat it!  I dare you!

senryu by M. Nakazato LaFreniere

Pumpern is german for “fart” and nickel is for “goblin, devil, lout, rascal, wastrel”.  During the Thirty Year War (1618-1648), soldiers ate pumpernickel all the time.  Their rations had an unfortunate side effect — the same one as beans!  Indigestion that led to …. yeah, you got it, farting.

Beans just got luckier.  The word beans was derived from the germanic “bohne”  or from the dutch “boon” which means … beans!   laughing.  I love it when things mean exactly the same thing no matter how far you take it back.  Makes sense though.  Beans have been around a long time.  Still you would think that when even our cowboy movies makes jokes about beans, we would have a more colorful epithet for it.

A popular story about the word “pumpernickel” is it came from Napoleon raving that the bread was only good enough for his horse, Nichol.  “for Nichol” in french is “pour Nichol”.  He might have but it was more than 100 years after the poor soldier boys.  Trust Napoleon to try to usurp all the credits for the word.

I first read of the Goblin’s Fart in “Word by Word”, an editor writing about the intricacies of creating word definitions in dictionaries.  You would think it would be boring but it’s a fun read especially since she drops little factoids like this one.

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From Amazon:

The Prepared Pantry Bread Machine Mix, Black Russian Gourmet Pumpernickel, 22 Ounce

Inside the Jewish Bakery: Rye & Other Breads, kindle

Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski (Kindle)

Amazon disclosure: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.”

Merriam-Webster dictionary


Online Etymology Dictionary

The Devilish Origins of “Pumpernickel”
By Ben Zimmer, Visual Thesaurus, April 6, 2015