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I've been at parties or other gatherings, and, when it was time to leave, native speakers would come up with odd ways of saying "It's time to go."

One way would be:

Let's make like a bakery truck and haul buns.

Another was:

Let's blow this clambake.

I'm wondering if someone could explain why these phrases get used, and if there are any underlying puns or jokes that I may not be catching.

In short, why do these mean, "It's time to leave?"


Disclaimer: I already understand these expressions, but thought they would be interesting for the English language learner. (In fact, this question is based on an “actual problem I have faced”: in the past, some non-native friends have asked me to explain these phrases; I found them easy for me to understand, but hard to explain in a way that a non-native speaker could fully appreciate their whimsicality. Non-natives, feel free to give this one a try – it might be a fun “practice question.”

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    The origin of the saying, 'Let's blow this Popsicle stand,' is unknown, but there are several variants of "Let's blow this joint / clambake / [not very interesting place]". The "haul buns" one is just a jokey variant of "Let's shift our arses". They're all just ways to inject a note of humour, often because leaving may be seen as a negative reflection on the place/people you were with. So sometimes it's just highly-disguised "politeness". – FumbleFingers Mar 26 '14 at 0:47
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    In the UK a couple of favourites are "make like a tree and leave" and "make like a foetus and head out". – JMB Mar 26 '14 at 10:55
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    @JMB nice one! In Germany some people (jokingly) say "Saddle the chickens, we ride to Texas". – Avigrail Jan 28 '15 at 11:18
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“Let’s make like a bakery truck and haul buns” is jokingly said when one wants to leave a party. Our buns (buttocks) are compared to a bakery truck, that is, they are as heavy and big as a bakery truck which hauls (drags) heavily.

On the other hand a bakery truck also sells buns (small, sometimes sweet breads) having a shape that resembles to a curvy contour of a girls gluteus maximus muscles as seen from behind: "Margie's buns look nice and tight now that she's working out.”

In other words buns sold by the bakery truck are compared to the slang word of ass, cheeks, buttocks. There is a pun which mixes our buns with the buns sold by a bakery truck.

As a result we can understand the pun this way: “let’s move our asses out of here” or “let’s get out of here”.

“Let’s blow this clambake” it’s a very silly way to say “Let’s get a move on”, where blow is the slang word for “ to go, leave, exit” or “leave this less than an interesting place”.

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    But remember that buns are also something that are sold in a bakery truck! – nxx Mar 26 '14 at 23:07
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    I believe clambakes and popsicle stands euphemise the genetalia of those in attendance. If one's implicit intentions are predicated on (or precluded by) the presence of one sex or another, these phrases can indicate a desire to go somewhere with a better ratio. c.f. “Sausage Fest(ival)”. – Tyler James Young Apr 1 '14 at 16:42
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I'm watching a movie from 1939 called They Made Me a Criminal, where one of the characters says, "Let's blow!" It's possible that this usage predated versions that specified from whence to blow, viz "Let's blow this [whatever]." So "blow" might have been slang that pre-dated such terms as "book," "jet," "boogie," or possibly even "scram." "Twenty-three skidoo", however, is almost certainly older. The import is not so much that it's time to leave but rather that those who are "blowing" are too cool for school.

  • Welcome to the ELL :-). Your discussion on the period when one of the phrases might have originated is interesting, but doesn’t seem to answer OP’s question. Also, when referencing a film it would be interesting to provide the title, not just the year. Enjoy ELL experience! – Lucky Apr 23 '15 at 2:37
  • @Lucky - This is a different take on my question, and I think it adds to the discussion. I wouldn't say that it doesn't answer my question. (It may not answer my question fully, but it does provide useful information.) – J.R. Apr 23 '15 at 9:04
  • @J.R. Then I apologize, it seems I got a bit overzealous. I agree that the information is interesting. I'm still curious about the title of the film, though :-) – Lucky Apr 23 '15 at 9:10
  • The movie was "They Made Me a Criminal." It's in the public domain and available at archive.org. – CWPost Apr 23 '15 at 12:43
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The way I have come to understand these phrases:

Let's make like a bakery truck and haul buns.

Much in the way a bakery truck would "haul buns" (haul>pull>move) (buns>bread) from one location to another. A person would (haul>pull>move) their own (buns>butt(slang)) from one location to another.

Let's blow this clambake.

To blow when talking in the context of leaving is talking about how the wind will "Blow" and/or move.

While the term clambake can be replaced with any descriptive word meaning the current location:

Let's blow this clambake.

Let's blow this party.

Let's blow this pop stand (soda shop).

Let's blow this Popsicle stand.

Let's blow this joint (an establishment). <~~ this one can also be used as a drug reference

Let's blow this place.

Let's blow this bitch.

Let's blow this town.

in all instances it means to move (like the wind can blow) from your current location defined by the descriptive word you use.

the term clambake itself when used can mean different types of places also:

an outdoor social gathering at which clams and other seafood (and often chicken, potatoes, and sweet corn) are baked or steamed, traditionally in a pit, over heated stones and under a bed of seaweed.

or (informally)

a place where the crowd is mostly female (where a clam is referencing the female genitalia)

and lastly (again informally and mostly used in the north east america)

a small area where drugs are emitting a large amount of smoke causing the air to be mostly polluted with said smoke. Such as a group of people smoking in a car or a larger group of people smoking at a festival. (this term comes from the resemblance marijuana smoke has to the smoke emitted during the cooking process at the outdoor social gathering at which clams and other seafood steamed)

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Legend has it that this term was first used in the 40's by a jamaican named Antoine Cleo. He believed that filling the area of a popsicle with deadly radiation, can be used against certain countries as biological warfare. He believed that the radiation had certain brainwashing chemicals inside of it and that placing the popsicles at stands at random areas could allow more people to buy the popsicles, thus was his plan for world domination. However, his plans were soon foiled when a strange cult called the Kindred Spirits blew up all the popsicle stands in North America killing the perpetrator, Antoine Cleo. "Lets blow this popsicle stand" was then started as an inside joke between 4 teenagers, then spread throughout the US. The phrase from then on meant;"Lets get out of here fast before something bad happens."

  • This seems highly dubious - are there any sources to support this: contemporary news articles, for instance? – jimsug Jun 1 '14 at 2:53
  • @jimsug - Actually, the interweb seems to have a few places that report this same story. (Whether or not it's true or an urban legend is another matter.) – J.R. Jun 1 '14 at 8:58
  • @J.R. All of the results (and this answer) appear to be directly copied from the Urban Dictionary entry. – Miles Dec 4 '16 at 7:59

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