Marching and Chowder Society

I have searched online, but in vain, to find a definite origin to this phrase.

It seems to be a general sort of description to describe a fan club or social society.

LA Dodgers announcer Vin Scully uses it frequently when he reads some glowing statistic for a player, for example, “That’s the 35th homer of the season for Joe. That will be good news to the members of the Joe Blow Marching and Chowder Society”.

Bob We did a thread about this in the last month or so, with no conclusion. Or maybe it was paripheral to the thread.

Anyway, It can be traced to POGO, Walt Kelly, in the 1940’s. Beyond that, I have no help right now. I will tyr to do more.

The reason the above reply appears to have been written by a drunk, illiterate person, is:

I was drinking wine, holding on to the phone calling my local talk show to shoot down two loonies about the Albany UFO and The “current” UN sex scandal. The scandal is 8 months old, and the UFO is probably rods. I had to talk and write at the same time. NOt a good combo.

Samclem, do you have an cite? The earliest I’ve ever actually seen a reference was in the “Barnaby” strips by Crockett Johnson, which would be about 1950 ish.

Specifically the “Elves, Gnomes, Leprachauns and Little Men’s Chowder and Marching Society”, J. Jakeen O’Malley, President.


Barnaby started in 1942; the “Elves’, Leprechaun’s, Gnome’s, and Little Men’s Chowder and Marching Society” was introduced that year.

I don’t believe it was used in Pogo.

I’m also not sure if Johnson was parodying an existing name.

I suppose if the collected minds of the SDMB couldn’t figure it out, then I don’t feel as bad for not finding out where it came from either.

The name dates back at least as far as the 19th century:
From the sound of various articles, the chowder and marching society bit was old even in 1800.
Yet more info for the curious here:

Wow! Looks like I spoke too soon.

Chuck Thanks for that info. That certainly predates Kelly.

Squink I’m still trying to find a verifiable source in your links. I have only read them through one time, but they seem to be all second and third hand info, with no actual cites to the phrase being used.

Squink I’m still trying to find a verifiable source in your links.”
Yes, in amongst the google links was a ref to a C&M society in Maine being formed in the ~1850’s. That and the U of Rhode Island Oceanography organization ( should be fairly simple to verify, but maybe not through just the internet.

This is taken from Fruitcakes & Couch Potatoes and other delicious expressions by Christine Ammer:

Interesting that the New England version of this phrase became the accepted norm.

In NYC, politically sponsored feedbags featured grilled beefsteaks (see the classic Joseph Mitchell New Yorker essay “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks”).

Further south, of course, you’d be having barbecues.

Squink I still can’t find an actual cite for the phrase used anytime before the 1940’s. Can you research for the one from the 1850’s in Maine?

As for the Oceanography group, one assumes they don’t go back to the 1850’s. Or even the 1950’s.

Here you go:
The article isn’t an actual cite of the phrase from the 1870’s, but it certainly implies that the phrase was used back then. If you want more, you could try e-mailing the author as indicated in the link.

Squink Methinks you got “whooshed” by the story John McDonald told in that link. The fellow writes a humor column and has a humorous talk show on Sat. mornings. I’ll detail it further if you need.

There never was such a society in Cherryfield.

So now we’re back to: Is there a cite to a chowder and marching society prior to ca. 1942?

Damn, the article being from admitted New England storytellers, I did wonder a bit. Further digging revealed several claims that the term dates to the 1800’s, but nothing definite shows up before ~1940.

Claims or clams?

The 1920s Algonquin gang were dubbed the “Thanatopsis Literary and Inside Straight Club” by F.P. Adams, in a reference to Sinclair Lewis’s novel Main Street. Although the famous Will Cotton caricature painting is labelled “The Thanatopsis Pleasure and Inside Straight Club.”

In their endless self-referential writings, some of the members substituted “chowder” somewhere in there. Let me look for a cite.

At least two of those guys, Benchley and Sherwood, were New Englanders.

One variation on the phenomenon here in VA is a “shad planking.” Up until recently, women were not welcome.

Well, thanks to Barry Popik(You know, “Windy City” and “Big Apple”? Yeah, that guy) we can cite it from 1939. I don’t know how that squares with the comic strip origin.

Mr. Popik dug up: 2 June 1939, NYTimes, p.37.
Lee Gould of the branch chapter formed by the Elizabethan Chowder and Marching Society at Harvard University will lead an open forum on the relative merits of blasting operations.

I realize I’m about 8 years late to this particular party, but I was trying to figure out what exactly a “Marching & Chowder Club” was, and I stumbled upon this thread. I figured I’d share this link that I came across, wherein during a 1974 interview, one Dr. Shaw Livermore claims to have been a member of the Buffalo Marching & Chowder Club from 1934 to 1940. From the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.

But the true burning question is: Has samclem sobered up?