Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Pink Elephant

The other day I got to wondering, what was the history of the Pink Elephant. This being an appropriate thought just following New Years. As a Bar Ware and Shaker collector I see this image everywhere and just got to wondering.
I started my research with Wikipedia and here is what they had to say: "Seeing pink elephants", a euphemism for drunken hallucination. You can follow the link above to Wikipedia.
There's something about an Elephant, but it's unclear why pink elephants have been associated with drinking for a number of decades, but they are one of the more consistent images. One reference to seeing pink elephants and pink spiders as a drinking hallucination, attributed to the 1890s. In 1913 Jack London wrote in "John Barleycorn": "There are, broadly speaking, two types of drinkers. There is the man whom we all know, stupid, unimaginative, whose brain is bitten numbly by numb maggots; who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter, and who sees, in the extremity of his ecstasy, blue mice and pink elephants. He is the type that gives rise to the jokes in funny papers."
For some reason, pink elephants were the most popular image for drinking during several decades, beginning in the '40s. Actually as you see above it started much earlier.
This image has sprung up all over the place in its history with Cocktail Shakers, Napkins, Coasters, Trays or just about anything else you can associate with drinking. There are even Pink Elephant Jokes.Guy Lombardo had a popular hit with the song in 1932 "Pink Elephants" composed by Mort Dixon and Harry Woods.
Pink elephants on the table.
Pink elephants on the chair.
Pink elephants on the ceiling,
Pink elephants ev'rywhere.
Now I'm through making whoopee, I raised my hand and swore

That I never intend to see those pink elephants any more.

Below Are the 1040s Dancing Pink Elephant (Left) Cocktail Shaker set and the 1950s recipe version (Right). Both of these were made by Hazel Atlas. Also pictured is a little Pink Elephant shot glass & a canape tray.
There is even a modern Version, pictured below. It is pretty easy to to find this shaker while the vintage shakers above are a little harder to find. While doing the research for this post I found numerous places to buy both. Check out This is Mark Bigler's website of shakers he has for sale. He has a couple of Pink Elephant pieces for sale.
Then everyone should remember The Pink Elephant Dance from Dumbo. Check it out on Youtube.
While you're watching the video you might want to sip a Pink Elephant Cocktail:
1/4 oc of Vodka
3/4 oc of Galliano
3/4 oc of Creme de Noyaux (Or Almond liqueur)
3/4 oc of Orange Juice
3/4 oc of Cream
Dash of Grenadine

Stir in mixing glass half filled with cracked ice and strain into 5 ounce champagne glass.

Well I guess that's about it for now on Pink Elephants. As you can see "They are Ev'rywehere"


Christine Nylin said...

Fabulous post, my man. I'm sure you came across this in your research, but seriously: How can anyone take an IT firm seriously that's named "Pink Elephant"???

Jaya of said...

Thanks for a great article! I linked to it from a Pink Elephant post of mine.

nerdling said...

I love pink elephants! I especially remember watching "Punch Trunk," the Looney Tunes cartoon—hopefully there will be a pink elephant revival.

Helen said...

I remember this song from my early childhood (think early 1940s) and knew it was about drunkneness, but have just discovered the words. I particularly like the lavender alligator.

Cindy Dy said...

Thank you for this post. Keep it up. Hope to read more post from you guys.