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Pop Goes the Weasel facts for kids

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"Pop! Goes the Weasel"
Pop Goes the Weasel melody.PNG
Sheet music
Nursery rhyme
Published 1852

"Pop! Goes the Weasel" is an English nursery rhyme and singing game. It is often used in Jack-in-the-box toys.


There are many different versions of the lyrics to the song. In England, most share the basic verse:

Pop goes the weasel
The music and British lyrics to the nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel.

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Often a second and third verse is added:

Every night when I go out,
The monkey's on the table,
Take a stick and knock it off,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the City road,
In and out the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop goes the weasel.


Pop Goes The Weasel (Porter, 1853)
Early sheet music publication (1853). Note the absence of lyrics other than "Pop Goes the Weasel"

The rhyme may have originated in the 18th century, and mentions The Eagle [Tavern], which stopped being a pub in 1825, until rebuilt in 1901 and still extant.

A boat named "Pop Goes The Weasel" competed in the Durham Regatta in June 1852, but it was in December of that year that "Pop Goes The Weasel" first came to prominence as a social dance in England. A ball held in Ipswich on 13 December 1852 ended with "a country dance, entitled 'Pop Goes the Weasel', one of the most mirth inspiring dances which can well be imagined." On 24 December 1852, dance lessons for "Pop Goes The Weasel", described as a "highly fashionable Dance, recently introduced at her Majesty's and the Nobility's private soirees", were advertised in Birmingham. By the 28th of that month, a publication including "the new dance recently introduced with such distinguished success at the Court balls" and containing "the original music and a full explanation of the figures by Mons. E. Coulon" was being advertised in The Times.

The tune appears to have begun as dance music, to which words were later added.. A music sheet acquired by the British Library in 1853 describes a dance, "Pop! Goes the Weasel", as "An Old English Dance, as performed at Her Majesty's & The Nobilities Balls, with the Original Music". It had a tune very similar to that used today but only the words "Pop! Goes the Weasel". A similar piece of sheet music published in 1853 is available online at the Library of Congress; it also contains no words other than "Pop Goes the Weasel", but gives a detailed description of the dance. The dance became extremely popular, and featured on stage as well as in dance-halls. By September of the same year the title was being used as a scornful riposte and soon words were added to an already well-known tune. The song is mentioned in November 1855 in a Church of England pamphlet where it is described as a universally popular song played in the streets on barrel organs, but with "senseless lyrics": the use of alternative, more wholesome words is suggested. The following verse had been written by 1856 when it was quoted in a performance at the Theatre Royal.

A piece of sheet music, copyrighted in Baltimore in 1846, advertises "Pop Goes the Weasel, sung by Mr. Chapman", written by "Raymond", as among the "Ballads" available for sale from the same publisher; however a copy of that sheet music available online at the Johns Hopkins University indicates that it dates from significantly later (1856).

American versions

The song seems to have crossed the Atlantic in the 1850s where U.S. newspapers soon afterwards call it "the latest English dance", and the phrase "Pop! goes the weasel" soon took hold. The remaining words were still unstable in Britain, and as a result some of the U.S. lyrics are significantly different and may have an entirely different source, but use the same tune. The following lyric was printed in Boston in 1858:

All around the cobbler’s house,
The monkey chased the people.
And after them in double haste,
Pop! goes the weasel.

In her autobiographical novel "Little House in the Big Woods", published in 1932, American author Laura Ingalls Wilder recalls her father in 1873 singing the lyrics:

All around the cobbler's bench,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The preacher kissed the cobbler's wife -
Pop! goes the weasel!

A penny for a spool of thread,
Another for a needle,
That's the way the money goes -
Pop! Goes the weasel!

In 1901 in New York the opening lines were:

All around the chicken coop,
The possum chased the weasel.

The most common recent version was not recorded until 1914. In addition to the three verses above, American versions often include some of the following:

All around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey stopped to pull up his sock, (or The monkey stopped to scratch his nose) (or The monkey fell down and oh what a sound)
Pop! goes the weasel.

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
Mix it up and make it nice,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Contemporary verses in the United States include these, the first three being sung one after the other with the third getting the 'closing' version of the tune.

All around the mulberry bush, (or cobbler’s bench) (or carpenter’s bench)
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought ’twas all in good fun, (or ’twas all in good sport) (or that it was a joke) (or it was a big joke) (or 'twas all in fun)
Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the King's Road,
In and out the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes -
Pop! goes the weasel.

A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle—
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Jimmy’s got the whooping cough
And Timmy’s got the measles.
That’s the way the story goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

I've no time to wait and sigh,
No patience to wait 'til by and by.
Kiss me quick, I'm off, goodbye!
Pop! goes the weasel.

There are numerous American versions as printed in Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, Volume III, pp. 368–369. Randolph's #556, the A text. Collected 1926 from Mrs. Marie Wilbur of Pineville, Missouri.

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