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Chicago Tribune, May 21, 1927 (left) and August 21, 1929. Further to the Jazz Age prevalence of the phrase “banana oil.” Strip on the right is not so hot, but I needed more than one image to effect the fully-magnified gallery view of the one on the left, which is a lovely little jumble sale of forgotten slang. “Cracked ice!” “Not so dusty”! What do you say we all go back to talking like this, starting September 1st? It would be totally dusty. (Or “not so dusty.” Whichever means “good.”)


  1. I’ve only ever seen “not so dusty” used to mean “pretty good,” so I’m not quite sure how to interpret it in this strip. It’s reassuring to see that lack of hilarity prevailed in the strips long before the Family Circus, Marmaduke, and Garfield lumbered across the paper.

    • Huh! Maybe the cartoonist got it from the copy boy who was setting him up to get it wrong? Thanks for the linguistic tip.
      No shortage of formulaic funny paper stuff in this era. If maybe nothing so soul-sucking as Marmaduke, IMHO.

      Further thought: could be that the expression reversed its meaning to, sort like the way “funky” became a good thing after originally meaning smelly and bad. Happens a lot with slang I think. That’s why it’s the shit.

  2. From Urban Dictionary – (2005)

    Banana Oil – (archaic) Insincere or nonsense speech. This term is an example of 1920s (“flapper” era)American slang. Synonyms from the era include horse feathers and applesauce.

    so they basically combined “Midnight Oil” with “Banana Oil” to be punny. i guess.

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