So proclaimed a Bayleys heading over an advert for three adjacent industrial buildings. Still, it’s an improvement over the usual absurdities, these written by their salesmen. They gave “hardworking building” another run recently, this as before for a stationary building incapable of working.

While it’s an easy money bet they have no idea where “double whammy”, which their “triple whammy” is a word play on, actually came from, it’s quite an interesting story. Or it is to me, I having a life-long interest in language roots.

A whammy was a word for hexes and spells in the southern states of America early last century.

In 1941 a boxing manager being interviewed by a Californian newspaper was quoted saying the only way the then heavyweight champion Joe Louis could be beaten was to hit him with a double whammy. Boxing was then the second most popular sport behind baseball in America so his comment was widely reported.

Al Capp, the creator of the Li’l Abner comic strip syndicated across the nation, read the interview and used the term in his strip and seemingly overnight it was firmly embedded into the language. For example, the British Conservative Party made it their key campaign message in the 1992 election, resulting in John Major’s unexpected victory.

Coincidently, as it’s unlikely they knew of its boxing connection, their campaign advertising showed a boxing figure wearing massive boxing gloves. One bore the message “More Taxes” and the other “Higher Prices”. Above was the caption “Labour’s Double Whammy”.

In 2011 the Sunday Star Times headed a story about Christchurch’s earthquake, gale-force winds and then floods using “Triple Whammy”. Being journalists it’s a certainty they had no idea of its roots.


Trackbacks and Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: