Totally Harmless Phrases (Are Secretly Offensive Jokes)

Do you know the kinds of cesspools your words were hanging out in before they got into your mouth? We do, and as we've told you before, their backstories tend to be awful as balls. (Full Article)
  1. "Bang For Your Buck" Used To Be A Cute Slogan For Total Annihilation
    In 1953, the Eisenhower administration had a bit of a problem divorcing the fiscal conservatism of the Republican Party from the Cold War necessity of, well ... eternal war. Their solution was the New Look, a policy of using nuclear weapons in any battle larger than a "brushfire conflict." This strategy would replace expensive soldiers with cheaper atom bombs. Thus, the president -- and the American people -- would get more "bang" for their tax "bucks."
  2. "Sold Down The River" Comes From The Slave Trade
    The river being referred to is either the Mississippi or Ohio, and what are being very literally sold down that river are slaves. Getting sold "down the river" wasn't a pretty fate, even for them. They weren't merely going from one plantation to a different one; chances were they'd be en route to the southern parts of Mississippi, which generally had way worse conditions.
  3. "Grandfathering" Was A Way To Exclude African Americans From Voting
    Following the end of slavery, African American men were finally given the right to vote, but not every state was so keen to extend these liberties. Since flat-out forbidding them from voting was now illegal, many states tried to circumvent the law by coming up with a bunch of new rules to exclude black voters. Mandatory literacy tests and constitutional quizzes were instituted, which most African Americans at the time probably couldn't pass -- but not strictly because of their skin tone.
  4. "Pipe Dreams" Refers To Opium Hallucinations
    Opiate-based commerce was important to Victorian England's economy. Women with menstrual problems, or who were prone to "hysteria" or fainting fits, were given laudanum treatments. Children were prescribed opiates so that they might be seen but seldom heard. You could pop down to the corner chemist and pick up some cocaine or arsenic. You could easily visit an opium den with the likes of Lewis Carroll and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, grab a pipe and have yourself some vivid hallucinations.
  5. "The Other Side Of The Tracks" Is All About Segregation
    Railroads, highways, and other "historically impassable avenues" tend to reduce foot traffic to and from useful things like schools, hospitals, and parks. Which sucks for those unfortunately born on the wrong side of said avenues -- or dare we say, "the wrong side of the tracks." This segregation used to be done deliberately, though it's since simply become a matter of habit.