Ben Yagoda writes for Slate, “If you’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, you have seen an Apple commercial in which various people do exercises, play sports, and monitor their fitness apps to the accompaniment of a rousing song that begins:”
Now and then.
Once more on the rise.
Nuts to the flabby guys!
Go, you chicken fat, go away!
Go, you chicken fat, go!
“Sound familiar? If so, you may be a Baby Boomer who knows it from gym class. ‘Chicken Fat’ was a product of President Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness, a program that sprang from Kennedy’s sense that the nation’s youth was, collectively, getting flabby,” Yagoda writes. “In 1961, the president appointed Bud Wilkinson, football coach at the University of Oklahoma, to direct the Council and devise a series of exercises youngsters could do to improve their fitness and gauge their progress. Meredith Willson, the composer of The Music Man, which had recently ended its Broadway run, contacted Wilkinson and said he wanted to write a fitness theme. Within a week, ‘Chicken Fat’ was complete.”
“For whatever reason, the record wasn’t used in my elementary school in New Rochelle, N.Y., either, though I well remember trying to perform a sufficient number of sit-ups and squat thrusts to meet the president’s standards,” Yagoda writes. “And roughly half of the Baby Boomers I asked about the song in an informal survey did remember it—some reported that it was being used in gym classes as late as the 1980s. A Coloradan recalled that it was played during swim lessons at her pool, and a Pittsburgh native said it blared through the speakers at his summer camp.”
Read more in the full article here.
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