Nobody Does it Like Sara Lee—Maybe Not Even Her

If you’ve ever listened to music at any point in your life, chances are you’ve had your share of “Wait, what did he just say?” and “It sounded like ‘cheese on the Chick-Fil-A,’ but that can’t be right” moments. I’d make a Bob Dylan joke here to really drive the point home, but it just seems too easy.

Well, that, and we’re watching American Idol right now, and I’m too distracted to think of something clever.

I’m certainly not the exception to this rule; in fact, I think I get confused easier than most. It’s not surprising, really. My parents’ anniversary and my birthday are on the same date—eight years apart, for the record—and I just assumed everyone’s family was like this. Until I was 12.

There are two instances in particular that I remember. The first happened when I was in seventh or eighth grade and fresh off having seen Mrs. Doubtfire. For reasons that escape me, I was walking around my school singing “Do it like a lady”—what I thought Aerosmith was saying in “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).”

One of our gym teachers overheard me and asked “What’s that supposed to mean?” I was like “I don’t know. Maybe you should ask Steven Tyler.”

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia—which I was recently told is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica shortly before I wept for the fate of humanity—a lot of people apparently think it’s “Move it like a lady.” I still think mine makes far more sense, but I will concede that being included in Mrs. Doubtfire should have tipped me off as to the correct lyrics and prevented me from insulting Ms. Mumm.

My second memorable faux pas involved “Livin’ on a Prayer,” when I mentioned something about “making our swear” to a friend. She laughed and took great pleasure in informing me it’s actually “make it, I swear.” I retold this story to Jenny just the other day, and she said what I thought it was doesn’t even make sense.

Sure, not grammatically—but artistically, it’s a home run. “Swear” as a synonym for “oath” or “pact”? C’mon. If I had been there with Bon Jovi in 1986, they might have gone somewhere.

But oddly enough, the most intriguing example illustrating this highly (cough) engaging phenomenon has nothing to do with an actual song but rather a jingle for baked goods.

Remember the old Sara Lee commercials? What were they saying: “Nobody does it like Sara Lee” or “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee”? Despite the double negative, or perhaps because of it, I always leaned toward number two.

A little while back, though, my sister-in-law Susan and I debated this very point, and both she and Jenny insisted it was “Nobody does it like Sara Lee.” I fought it at first, but they convinced me, so much so that when I came up with the idea for this post—a true moment of inspiration—I thought it would just fit neatly with my Aerosmith and Bon Jovi goofs.

However, just to be safe, I went to look up the slogan before I started writing, and I discovered something: I was right all along. Maybe.

See, Wikipedia and a whole host of its supremely reliable friends claim the double negative version is right but that it got misquoted as “Nobody does it like Sara Lee.” Then there’s this highly entertaining message board thread from 2002 that wastes hardly any time before putting forth a conspiracy theory about the whole thing, suggesting that Jenny, Susan, and I may all be right and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Internet, in a number of ways, is just terrible.

We should all be able to agree on one thing, though: The old phrase, whatever it was, was a lot better than the current “The joy of eating.”

You’re not pulling a Mel Gibson/Julia Roberts blockbuster out of that.

I know the newest members of the D.R.O.P. list are with me. Speaking of brilliant segues, they are:

1) Joey (my soon-to-be brother-in-law and fellow occasional Bostonian)
2) Evelyn (my aunt, who is really Jenny’s aunt, making her my aunt-in-law, but that’s even weirder than saying “cousin-in-law”)
3) Chris (one of my college roommates and a co-host of “The Boneyard,” the greatest sports talk show in the history of Internet student radio)

Alright. That’s all I got. I’d try to wrap everything up, but I really want to go to bed. I think you know where I’m coming from anyway.

How scary for you.

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8 comments

  1. Evelyn

    Okay, this whole Sara Lee thing can be resolved if everyone would just remember the ENTIRE jingle: "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee". When you consider the first part of the jingle, the second part, as you've stated, makes complete sense. You are right. Definitely. (Sorry, Jenny. I'm with Ted 100% on this one.)

  2. RRager

    First, of course my sister is right, andputting the phrase in context definitivelyends that debate. But she fails to mentionthat she's know for interpreting CreedenceClearwater Revival's Bad Moon Rising lyricsas "there's a bathroom on the right" (there's a bad moon on the rise).And as long as we're talking about lyrics…What the hell was Phil Collins thinking with"sussudio"?

  3. Ted

    "And as long as we're talking about lyrics…What the hell was Phil Collins thinking with 'sussudio'?"Best comment in the history of the Dining Room Office.

  4. RRager

    I appreciate the praise of "Best comment in the history of the Dining Room Office."But it will mean more when "history"encompasses more that two weeks.

  5. Evelyn

    Let's just clarify: I understood CCR just perfectly. I was relating someone else's misheard lyrics, from a book I had about misheard lyrics, which I believe my brother borrowed and never returned. JK! Seriously, I loaned the book to someone and never got it back. But it contained some real gems: "Excuse me while I kiss this guy", "Secret Asian Man", "Hold me closer, Tony Danza", and on and on. Gotta find that book again!

  6. Ted

    Any lyric involving Tony Danza automatically goes to the top of my list. And, since I am married to Jenny, I also know that bit of misheard wisdom had a great cameo on "Friends."

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