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Proverb Parody – American

Posted By Claire Nickerson On May 11, 2011 @ 12:24 am In Folk Beliefs,Folk medicine,Folk speech,general,Protection,Proverbs | Comments Disabled

The informant says he learned the following proverb parody from “social interaction at some point” but doesn’t remember exactly where:

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but only if you aim for the head.”

The informant claims that he “normally wouldn’t” perform the proverb parody unless someone else brought the proverb up first.

He thinks that “the whole ‘apple a day keeps the doctor away’ thing is dumb to begin with.”

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” the non-parodied version of the proverb, is part of the parameiological minimum for speakers of the English language. The informant did not specify why he felt that the proverb was foolish, but it may be because there is no nutritional reason to believe that eating an apple every day would keep the eater healthy. This version, which implies that throwing the apple at the doctor would be a more effective way of keeping him away, scoffs at the idea that eating an apple each day would have any great effect. Joe Schwarcz, the author of An Apple a Day: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths About the Foods We Eat, agrees: “It is certainly possible to have a good diet and never eat apples, just as it is possible to gorge on apples and have a horrible diet” (7). This proverb parody, like many others, serves as a vehicle for mocking traditional wisdom.


Schwarcz, Joe. An Apple a Day: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths About the Foods We Eat. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2007.

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URL to article: http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=5715