The Moral of the Story

At breakfast the other morning, the Beaner held up a book with an orange cover (yes, we allow books and magazines at the table, though I sweep them away if I notice he's not eating) and announced, "Mom, it just occurred to me what Green Eggs and Ham is about."

"What's that, boo?"

"It's about no-thank-you helpings."

"That's exactly right, boo. It *is* about no-thank-you helpings."

I was impressed with his rudimentary literary analysis, but this conversation also got me thinking. A "no-thank-you helping" is something I was forced to eat as a child: one serving spoon's worth of whatever it was I'd just declined (politely or not). I'm assuming my mother learned the term from her mother or grandmother (though she might have coined it herself, and obviously the Beaner got it from both of us), but the Beaner is right that the concept has been around at least as long as Green Eggs and Ham—and probably longer.

Did you have to eat no-thank-you helpings as a kid? If so, did your mom or grandmom call them that, or something else?

Posted by Lori in books and parenthood at 10:18 AM on January 17, 2010


When I was growing up, we had to have a taste of everything that was being served for dinner, even if it was an item for which our dislike was well-documented. And, we were not allowed to say that we didn't like it. The phrase was, "it is not my favorite."

Posted by: Marisa at January 17, 2010 11:33 AM

Yep, we had no-thank-you helpings in my family, too. I was a picky eater so most of my meals consisted mainly of no-thank-you helpings.

Posted by: Sydnew at January 17, 2010 7:19 PM

I am the third and youngest kid in my family. My parents started out with a "clean your plate" rule, but my brother got them over that after he barfed up a hot dog that my dad made him eat. So I benefited from my siblings' training of my parents!

We didn't have no-thank-you helpings that I recall, but I wasn't a picky eater. We put no-thank-you food on my kids' plates now and encourage them to eat it, but we don't force them to eat it. I do often cite the brilliant Green Eggs and Ham when they refuse to try things. I love Seuss!

Posted by: juliloquy at January 20, 2010 11:11 PM

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