Monday, January 29, 2007

Tiny Candy, Big Identity Crisis

  • I've always called these sprinkles.
  • I've heard people from the Northeast call them jimmies.
  • I also heard that some people call these sprinkles and only the chocolate ones jimmies.
  • One guess for the origin of "jimmies" is that it is derived from the old English slang word "Jim-jam," which meant "a trivial article or knick-knack," and later used to mean "little quirks".
  • If this is true, it is sort of ironic that British friends of mine refer to them as "hundreds and thousands".
  • Another thought about the origins of "jimmies" (which is a registered, trademarked name of the product for the Just Born company, which also produces Peeps) is that the man who operated the machine that made what was then called "chocolate grains" was named Jimmy so they named them after him.
  • Yet another explanation for "jimmies", one that I find truly bizarre is that it is a racist term-that by only calling the brown chocolate ones "jimmies" they are referring to Jim Crow. However, use of the word "jimmies" appears to predate the term "Jim Crow" so I am inclined to think that this is just an urban legend.
  • I have also come across the chocolate ones referred to as "chocolate rice" on some Asian food sites/blogs but I am not sure it that is common or wide spread.
  • Another word for them in the Northeastern part of the US is "shots". I find it odd that such a cold place of the country has so many terms for them, since they are traditionally found on ice cream, while warmer places only seem to have one.
  • I have also heard vague references to them being called "spreckles" but I am not sure in what country.
  • Nonpareils (small, round sugary balls), dragĂ©es (round, metallic) are vaguely similar in that they are used to decorate cakes and cookies, but are totally different items.

Are there any other names I missed?