Posted by RRC on May 09, 2007
In Reply to: Give the man a doughnut posted by Bob on May 09, 2007
: : : : Could anyone help me to understand the ORIGIN and exact meaning of "Give the man a doughnut" ? It seems to have the sense of a reward and could have appeared in connection with sport (?) Any suggestion welcome.
: : : This is a humorous variation on an earlier saying. This type of saying with replacements is recently been dubbed a "snowclone" - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowclone . It can be hard to research snowclones because it's hard to decide which version came first.
: : : The phrase is patterned after the banter of carnival barkers at midway games - some of the earlier forms are "give that man a prize", "give that man a blue ribbon", "give that man a kewpie doll", etc. You might expect to see any variation of "give a " such as "give those girls a medal".
: : : The phrase is often used to make light of a person when they have accomplished something rather inconsequential or come to some obvious conclusion. "You predicted the sun would come up tomorrow? Well, give that man a prize!"
: : Oops, "give a " should say "give -article- -person- a -reward-".
: One possibility is that a doughnut is shaped like a zero, so it may be a sarcastic/humorous way to talk about someone who has come up empty after an attempt.
... and sometimes a doughnut is just a doughnut - a cheap, sweet, inconsequential reward.