Louis Armstrong popularized the song “Butter and Egg Man.”

Now she wants, a butter an egg man
From way out in the west
She wants somebody, who’s workin’ all day
So she’s got money, when she wants to play

– Louis Armstrong

“Big Butter and Egg Man” is an outdated expression for a high-fallutin’ big-spender. The term was popularized in a 1926 jazz song, written by Percy Venable and performed by Louis Armstrong and May Alix.

Armstrong was reported to have had a crush on Alix, and would lose the tune in the middle of the song while staring at her adoringly. Perhaps it was Armstrong’s earnest longing for his collaborator that launched the song to fame, making it his first chart hit.

Soon, the phrase would be adapted to the silver screen in *The Butter and Egg Man.* The film has been lost, but we know that it was about an Ohio farmer who attempts to get into show business and is conned into investing in a flop, which later turns into a success (a forerunner to the Broadway success “The Producers,” a successful play about a play designed to be a failure, but which ends up being a success.)

I know the phrase from the Merle Haggard cover, and find this story amusing because no one can really pin down the true origins of the phrase. It’s been used in derogatory fashion, and as an insult for big-spender types.

The funny thing is that while butter and eggs might have been considered a luxury in the past, today they are cheap and we take them for granted despite their rich nutrient profile.

Everybody today can live as a “Big Butter and Egg Man,” by the standards of the 1920s. It’s just that we choose not to spend on money on the really valuable things — instead chasing after status goods and overpriced restaurant food.

Learn the rest of the A-B-Cs of Good Fats™ vs. Bad Fats with the free illustrated PDF guide to eating pretty good paleo on a budget.

Butter and eggs are core staples of my free “Poor Man’s Paleo” guide to healthy shopping on a budget. If you want to become a Big Butter and Egg man without being a spender, it’s not a bad place to start.

Well, I’ll be your big butter and egg man
From California, U.S.A.
On my guitar I’ll play some hot licks
Hey, that’s the technique I use on all the chicks

Well, my butter’s number one, my eggs are great ay
I can make delivery up to fifteen times a day
I’ll be your butter and egg man
From California, U.S.A.

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