Monday, May 27, 2013

Macaroni, but not the kind with cheese.

I'm kind of a history geek. I know a bunch of random facts about things that happened way too long ago. Ask my friends, I bring up weird facts all the time. Luckily for me they're all kind of geeky in their own ways, so they tolerate this quirk of mine.

Recently I learned something new and it was one of those forehead-slapping, oh-my-goodness-so-THAT-is-what-it-means kind of moments.

If it shocked me, the History Nerd, then maybe it would be eye opening to you guys too!

Now, just about every American kid knows the song Yankee Doodle. How it is a song that the British made up to make fun of the American Colonists during the Revolutionary War, but the Colonists turned it around and made it kind of a theme song.

Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-riding on his pony.
He stuck a feather in his cap,
And called it Macaroni!

Well, I couldn't ever understand how sticking a feather in your cap could ever be mistaken for noodles. I even asked my teacher about it when we were taught the song. I was told that the British were saying that the Colonists were just that stupid. 

I was taught WRONG!!

How does this....

...Mean this?


After doing a little research I found out that Macaroni was actually a fashion trend

Macaroni (which can also be spelled Maccaroni) was a mid-18th century fashion trend, mostly among men in the upper classes.

If you picture the men in the mid-1700s with the huge powdered wigs, wearing tons of make-up, fake beauty marks, and talking with an effeminate air. That is Macaroni. 

If you've seen Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, the man who does the wigs for Marie Antoinette is a really good example of a Macaroni. 

That is the best picture I could find online. The Macaroni is the guy on the right with the pointy looking hair. If you compare him to the rest of the male cast you can really see how odd he looks. The movie uses it brilliantly for comedic effect. 

Here's a historical caricature. Regular guy on the right, Macaroni on the left. 

The Macaroni was the precursor to the Dandy of the 1800s. Somebody, usually male, who took a great interest in fashion and tended to really go overboard with trends. 

What the British were trying to convey in the song was that the Colonists were so stupid that they thought a simple feather was enough adornment to be the same as the overblown Macaroni. 

In today's society we have lots of different ways of dressing: Skaters, Hipsters, Preppies, Yuppies, Metrosexuals, People of WalMart...

In the middle of the 1700s you didn't have this many choices. Your style of dress was determined by your status or class in society. So these upper class weird Macaroni were really a sight to behold. (Kind of like when really rich ladies get really bad plastic surgery.)

In summation, translating it into todays language, Yankee Doodle might go something like this:

Dumb American went to town,
A-riding in his Mazda.
Sagged his pants below his butt,
And called himself a gangsta'!

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