bang for your buck

From where does the phrase “more bang for you buck” come?

My WAG is that it is a gunpowder reference. The cheaper gunpowder is, the more you get for a dollar. Hence, “more bang for your buck.”

I remember my political science professor talking about a U.S. general or senator who said early in the Cold War that nuclear weapons give “more bang for the buck” than conventional weapons. I assumed it was this use that popularized the phrase. Now that I think about it, I realize the phrase could be much older than the atomic age.

To expand upon bibliophage’s link–

It specifically is recounted by William Safire in his New Language of Politics 1968, and he attributes it to Defense Secretary Charles Wilson in 1954 dubbing John Foster Dulles’ principle of massive retaliation as “a bigger bang for a buck.” At least, that’s the first incidence in print.