All you ever wanted to know about jimmies or sprinkles but were afraid to ask. An excerpt:
When I mentioned jimmies, the long-established localism for chocolate sprinkles, in a recent column, it was just as a passing example; I didn’t mean to reopen an etymological can of worms. But a few days later, along came an e-mail from Ron Slate of Milton, repeating the rumor that has dogged our candy terminology. “My mother told us never to use the word ‘jimmies’ because it is an epithet for African-Americans,” he wrote. “So we always said ‘sprinkles.’ ”
Even before that tale got abroad, jimmies was trailing clouds of factoid and fancy. Its origins are murky, so — like “the whole nine yards” and “the real McCoy” — it attracts just-so stories, some plausible and some less so. At the “Boston English” section of the website UniversalHub, commenters will tell you that jimmies are named for the Jimmy Fund, the children’s cancer charity; for a kid named Jimmy who got them on his ice cream as a birthday treat (“they’re Jimmy’s”); for a mayor named Jim Conelson, or a Jimmy O’Connell who was extra generous with sprinkles; and for a guy who (maybe) ran the chocolate-sprinkles machine at the Just Born candy factory.
Read the rest of the article here:
The jimmies story – The Boston Globe.