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We have a shop called, "tops in pops", and I would like to know what it means.

I tried Googling it and didn't reach results.

This is the shop. We sell groceries

I simply would like to know what this means. "tops in pops" – what does it mean?

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2 Answers 2

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This shop almost certainly derives its name from the TV program, ‘Top of the Pops’, which ran for more than forty years on the BBC. It puns on the Irish dialect word pops or poppies, meaning ‘potatoes’ (Kallen, Irish English, vol. 2, p. 155). The store, as you say, specializes in fresh produce, and potatoes are traditionally the core of Irish diet. “Tops in Pops” = “the very best potatoes”.

Novelist Hugh Fitzgerald Ryan writes on his blog of picking potatoes in his youth:

After a day of dust and toil, gadflies (gad=spear) and stinging nettles, we might be lucky enough to be in time to watch Alan Freeman in Six Five Special or Top of the Pops. Alan spoke somewhat out of the side of his mouth. He was, of course, Australian with the twang of the Antipodes. ‘ Hi there, pop pickers,’ he used to say. He also said ‘Not arf!’ We were pop pickers and we were teenagers, a newly coined word. My mother occasionally referred to potatoes as pops. There was a shop near Mountjoy Square, called Tops in Pops. For many years it bore the legend on the window: now is the hour to get those balls of flour. This is the highest compliment that can be paid to a spud.

So there you are—all the pieces in one place.

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I have a guess.

Small stores are sometimes called mom and pop stores (contrasting them to large chain stores, which have several branches across a regional or national area). The expression is meant to highlight how these stores are usually owned by someone in the local community. WiseGEEK mentions that these stores are often owned by the same family for more than one generation.

For example, in the U.S., Wal-Mart is a large chain store. So is Sears. Those are not mom-and-pop stores.

Tops is sometimes used as a word meaning "best in".

So, conceivably, Tops in Pops could be a clever, rhyming way of saying "One of best mom-and-pop stores you'll find."

The picture on the page you linked to certainly looks like a mom-and-pop store. Nonetheless, I am speculating, and can't claim I know for certain this is true. It could just be a tribute to the shop owner's father (or, as Stoney suggested, maybe they are very proud of their potatoes). Nonetheless, I think this answer might be helpful to an English learner.

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