Shinola - Know things from it.

So, even if you're a millennial, and you think the universe began in 1990, you have probably heard a colloquialism implying the importance of knowing "shit from Shinola". If you've heard that, well done. "But," you may cry "what ever does it mean?". Cry no more, little one.

So, Shinola was a brand of shoe polish that, according to Wiktionary, had the look of poo. Missed opportunity. The makers of Shinola could have easily gone with the name "Shoe Poo". But anyway...

know shit from Shinola
A colloquialism which dates back to the early 1940s in the United States, sometimes ended with "that's why your shoes don't shine". Shinola was a popular brand of shoe polish, which had a color and texture not unlike feces.
know shit from Shinola(US) To have the most basic level of intelligence or common sense.

Well, that's another case wrapped up tight, but it does raise an odd question. Did Shinola, Inc. come up with this weird little swear-laden slogan? This seems unlikely, as the ad comes to us from a 1935 issue of Popular Mechanics, and swears were just as verboten in advertising as they are today. Hmm. Two things make me suspect it's from the military. Number A) shoe polish was important to those in the service - especially in decades past. Number B) soldiers love dirty talk. Let's see if The Ultranet knows anything. Phrases.org.uk seems to have an idea...

The 'ola' suffix is popular in the USA as part of trade names, e.g. Crayola, Granola etc. This leads to the pronunciation of Shinola as shine + ola. That spoils the alliteration a little as it would work better as shin + ola. 
This phrase is typical of the barrack room vulgarity of WWII, which is where it originated. Other "doesn't know" phrases, also mostly from the military are, "doesn't know his arse from a hole in the ground" (or elbow, or a hot rock, or third base), "doesn't know enough to pee downwind", "doesn't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his ass". The tone is lifted a little by the English conductor Sir Henry Wood who expressed a similar opinion with "he doesn't know his brass from his woodwind".

Aaaah, the good old military does not disappoint. If it's clever enough to be a jingle, but filthy enough to be funny, seek your answer in the armed forces.

But this 1935 Shinola ad is innocent. They're just selling shoe polish. The picture is interesting, though. She really likes the look of his super-shiny shoes.

That's quite a leer on that guy's mug. That's quite an appreciative lady sitting next to him. Good thing this picture isn't taken out of context or it could be really suggestive.

Hey! I got an idea! Let's take this picture out of context so it can be really suggestive! Phil Are GO! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Brigade! Assemble! PKSHOWW!!!

All right team! On my mark! Hut!

Make selection of dot pattern!...    Complete!
Copy dot pattern!...    Complete!
Fill in background behind man's head with dot pattern!...    Complete!
Improvise outline of man's hair!...    Complete!
Pattern Brush lady's dress where the tin overlaps it!...    Complete!
Pattern Brush man's suit where the tin overlaps it!...    Complete!
Crop image!...    Complete!

I don't know what you citizens will do with this newly enfilthened picture, but I hope you disappoint all your spouses and associates with your adolescent shenanigans. God's speed, prurient readers. You're welcome! Get your rude finger ready to right-click this naughty jpeg into your digital smut bucket in three, two, one, RIGHTCLICK NOW!

Click for big.


Jim D. said...

From here it sure looks like he has a bucket of popcorn on his lap . . .

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...



Jim D. said...

On second look, that headline (BRIGHTER SHINE, BIGGER _HIT) feels like they were coyly suggesting they knew the colloquialism. To me, anyway.

Unknown said...

Is that TV's William Campbell, aka, Trelane, the Squire of Gothos?

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