Children’s Chinese Restaurant Chant

Ruchika Tanna

Los Angeles, California

April 25, 2012

Folklore Type: Childhood Chant

Informant Bio: Ruchika is my friend and fellow Archaeology major. Ruchika is a Sophomore at the University of Southern California. She has moved around her whole life. She is Indian.

Context: We were both in Intro to Folklore and decided to meet before Maya Civilization, the other class we have together, and discuss some.



“I went to a Chinese restaurant to buy a loaf of bread, bread, bread,

He asked me what my name was, and this is what I said, said, said,

My name is eli pickleby, pickleby eli,

Wallah wallah whiskers

Chinese, Japanese, Indian chief!”


Informant Analysis: I think this is just nonsense that’s fun to say, no particular meaning, as far as I can see. Learned it from my sister when I was in elementary school. She learned it from her friends. We used to sing it all the time, not so much anymore. Only when we go to Chinese restaurants. Like we did last weekend!

Analysis: This is a variation of a hand game chant that I have also heard. It is slightly shorter, and Ruchika never did the hand game part. At first it was probably just funny for her, but now it is a connection specific to her sister and her. What is also interesting is that my version has more ethnicities than these three from Asia. Either one of us could have the adapted version, or both our versions are adaptations. This could childhood chant could be an example of how specific ethnicities change certain things unconsciously to be more relatable to their culture.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012