13 Dec: The ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’ Craze

The undisputed viral hit of Christmas 1852 was the country dance ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’, still taught to children today. On 13th December, 1852, the craze was seen at a party in Ipswich, where it was declared “one of the most mirth-inspiring dances which can ever be well imagined”.

The song was performed at the Palace and taught to the gentry but, within a few years, had gained a reputation as an irritating earworm beloved by the poor and illiterate. How did this plummet from posh society come about? And to what do its famous lyrics, ‘half a pound of tuppeny rice / half a bag of treacle’ actually refer?

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly attempt to unpick the song’s meaning; discover what Humpty Dumpty was doing atop his famous wall; and reveal how The Eagle on City Road still cashes in on their nursery rhyme celebrity… 

Further Reading:

• ‘London Has A Pub From A Nursery Rhyme’ (Londonist, 2022): https://londonist.com/london/food-and-drink/london-has-a-pub-from-a-nursery-rhyme

• ‘Pop Goes the Weasel – The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes, By Albert Jack’ (Penguin, 2010): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Pop_Goes_the_Weasel/BoidGaGcDPwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=pop+goes+the+weasel&printsec=frontcover

• ‘Pop! Goes The Weasel | Rhymes in Time’ (The Museum of London, 2020):