Ripostes & Rejoinders – The Beans Have Been Chilling For A While

August 6th, 2008

A helpful reader forwarded this link, proving beyond a doubt that “cool beans” was neither invented by kids from my small Midwestern home town, nor was it forgotten after five minutes. However in spite of SIX pages of definitions, ranging from the banal to the pornographic, there is no consensus as to the origin – temporal or cultural – of “cool beans.” If you have time, perusing all 42 definitions is entertaining. I excerpt a few of my favorites below…

The Literalist:

Cool Beans – Beans that are neither hot nor cold, but cool; generally 42 1/2 degrees.
It is 42 1/2 degrees outside that is cool beans!

The Naughty:
Cool Beans – Another name for the drug ecstasy.
“Jerry you got the cool beans?”

The Latecomer:
Cool Beans – A Yahoo chat room term, (invented in 1996…), which means that one thinks highly of something.
That is exciting = Cool beans!

The Bitter Child of the 80s:
Cool Beans – A phrase popularized in the 1980s by U.S. teenage females who were viewers of the American sitcom “Full House.” For some yet unknown reason, these persons found the show entertaining and desired to emulate actress Candace Cameron whose character repeated the phrase incessantly on the show. The phrase then spread like a virus, infecting the vernacular of people of older and younger generations regardless of gender…these people were born without the ability to discern that this phrase was, to put it in the parlance of our current times, “*^$%ing stupid.” Is used to express approval or liking.
Person A: “Hey, it’s TGIF on ABC tonight! Wanna watch ‘Full House?’”

The Innovator:
The first of a series of unnecessary and over-used catch-phrases when something happens to one’s liking. The list goes as follows: Cool beans! Hot ice! Stolen diamonds! Pistol-packin’ granny! Sinister Minister!
The “c” can also be stuttered to enhance the effect.
C-c-c-c-c-cool beans!

The “Doesn’t Yet Realize That ‘cool beans’ And ‘super cool’ Live in the Same Linguistic Neighborhood”
Cool Beans – A very old word your parents might use in front of your super cool friends to seem just as super cool
dad: “what are you and your super cool friends up to?”
daughter: “ nothing”
dad: “cool beans”
*super cool friends walk away*
daughter: “ thanks dad.”

The “Has Issues With an Ex”

Cool Beans – A word that was originally used [in]… pop culture, now used by people who think they’re random. They feel the need to take words out of the 60s, when [they]… themselves are listening to Emo bands.
George: cool beans!
Me: Shut up.

And my particular vote for the most likely origin:

The “Random and Improbable Begets Random and Improbable”
Cool Beans – A slang term that actually began its use in the late 60s/early 70s. Popularized by the pop culture of the time. Used to describe something very favorable or pleasing. Great. Very nice.
Cheech: Hey man, look at this car made out of weed!
Chong: Oh cool beans, man!

Because, somehow “cool beans” makes sense when uttered in response to a car made out of weed.

Entry Filed under: Ripostes & Rejoinders