November 20, 2003

*Ask Jen

Reader Don P. writes, "The song 'Yankee Doodle' has always bothered me. I don't understand why someone would stick a feather in their cap and call it macaroni."

Excellent point. The macaroni in the song is not referring to pasta, but to a social club of dandy young men in England. ("Yankee Doodle dandy") The club was named the Macaroni Club, and the song was actually meant to be unflattering to the American revolutionaries.

Reader Jeff wants to know, "Why does a donkey stand for the Democratic Party? Couldn't they find something more flattering?"

In the 1828 presidential election, Democrat Andrew Jackson adopted the donkey as his mascot when his opponents called him a "jackass". Later on, cartoonist Thomas Nast used the donkey in his cartoons and made it famous. (Nast also introduced the Republican elephant in 1874, intending to show the strength of the Republican vote.)

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at November 20, 2003 11:06 AM