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Eatin’ bon bons

Everyone has heard the cliche of the wife who is lazy and does nothing but eat bon bons all day long. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any American, English-speaking adult under the age of 70 who hasn’t used that phrase at least once.

But where did it come from? During a phone call with one lazy woman, the topic came up and we started to search to find the origin of the phrase, but Google let us down. The earliest reference we could find was Peggy Bundy from Married With Children, but it has to be from earlier than that. My mother uses that phrase and has for a long time, and she never watched an episode of Married in her life.

In my head, I can almost picture an ad from the 1960’s that shows a woman extolling the virtues of her new vacuum or oven, giving her enough time to eat bon bons. Which reminds me – during one of my searches, I came across this old ad for Tab from the 70s which encourages women to be “mind stickers”:


So, any ideas? Proof? Evidence?

What is the origin of the stereotype of a woman eating bon bons?

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19 Replies to “Eatin’ bon bons”

  1. Poppy

    Also, I just used that expression with Dawg yesterday because he was going to try to make it easier for me to be able to watch TV in the cool room of the apartment, the bedroom, and I replied “just hand me my bonbons and I’ll be all set” then refused the idea of moving our TV to the bedroom.

  2. Sybil Law

    That ad is hysterical!
    Bon (French) comes from bonus, Latin. I actually got that far on my own (thanks, all those years of Latin).
    Other than that, I got nuthin’, and I ain’t googling the shit out of it, either.
    I said ain’t.
    I was drinking, whatever.

  3. mare

    and as proof:

    South ‘n France Presents: The History of Bon Bons, An Almost Entirely Fictitious Account Inspired by and Adapted From:

    Origin: The term “bon bon” comes from a phrase uttered by the Greek Goddess, Eurynome, Goddess of All Things, when she created these delectable chocolate confections, thus making perfect order out of the Chaos she formerly reigned over.

  4. Blondefabulous

    I dunno where it came from, but I now even when I was home with the kids, I never just sat around eating bon bons. I was cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, shuttling kids back and forth from school, etc etc etc! When the hell was I gonna sit around and stuff my face???

    • Bri

      Lol, I thought the same thing. The commercials had me cracking up. I’ve heard people use expressions about lazy people eating bon bons and being couch potato’s before but never knew what a bon bon actually was other than it referred to some sort of chocolate, never actually seen or tasted one before though. Curious, What actually is a bon bon?

  5. Faiqa

    The expression came from the mouth of some patriarchal bastard who was attempting to devalue the traditional precepts of feminine sphere of influence. Ahem. I DO NOT EAT BONBONS ALL DAY YOU JACKASS.

  6. cat

    When I was in grade school, my neighbor’s mom was mean and lazy and would sit around all day watching her “stories” (soaps) and eating bon bons. We would often hear her screaming from next door, “Paul, did you eat all my bon bons?! I’m going to kill you! Where are my bon bons?!” So that’s always what I think of when I think of a woman who sits around eating bon bons.

  7. Kristin

    Yeah, it predates Peg. I’m a history teacher and no, I’ve never looked this up. But my gut reaction goes to the Victorian Period (1850ish-1920ish). Women were placed on a pedestal during that time period, as keepers of all virtuous and blah blah blah. BUT during this time frame, middle class and upper class women did NOTHING but sit at home. You want fascinating? Go look up upper/middle class women ailments around 1900. But you were on target about the vaccuum cleaner…the Victorian Period coincides with Industrialization and new products were touted as making life easier on women (who didn’t do squat anyway).

    Bon bons? That’s French, so it’s possible there was a snide little remark toward French women, upper class, like Marie Antoinette and her ilk, doing nothing of importance but sitting on their derrieres and eating bon bons.

    And there’s your Cliffs Notes History Lesson for Sunday morning. Mind you, I have not looked a darn thing up to verify this so DO NOT quote me on Jeopardy. Just my initial reaction.

    I bet I just bored the crap out of you and you had asked a rhetorical question…that’s us history geeks for ya. We live to show off 🙂

  8. Karen Cole

    Bon Bon’s were an actual type of Ice Cream sold by some ice cream company that I don’t remeber ’cause I was young and didn’t pay attention. I remember my mom using the phrase ‘watching TV and eating BonBons’ refering to being lazy and pampering yourself. I am trying to find a picture of the package BonBon’s used to come in but have had no success.

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