We have a lot of great colloquialisms throughout the world, but we don’t always know where they all came from. Have you ever wondered where “let’s blow this popsicle stand” originated?
Unofficial records attribute the phrase to a Jamaican named Antoine Cleo. The term started in the 1940s as a reference to radioactive and biological warfare.
That’s not how my dad meant it when he would pick me up from soccer. Let’s explore the background and history behind this phrase to see where it came from.
History Behind “Let’s Blow This Popsicle Stand”
Ever wonder why it’s blowing a popsicle stand and not a different location? Well, there’s actually a reason for that. The creator of the phrase, Antoine Cleo, worked at a popsicle stand in Jamaica and held some interesting beliefs about biological warfare.
He believed that filling the area of a popsicle/popsicle stand with radioactive materials would serve as a secret biological weapon against other countries. Historians aren’t sure if he meant to make the popsicles with radioactive material or if he was going to have radioactive material nearby.
Either way, he believed he could create a brainwashing effect on the masses, which would eventually lead to an easy overthrowing of the government. His plans were foiled when a cult bombed all popsicle stands in major cities. Not only did he die in these attacks, but the phrase “blow this popsicle stand” became more of a morbid joke.
The first official use of the word is in the 1955 film “Kiss Me Deadly,” when the private investigator says the line to his assistant after she suggests they leave a party. After 1975, Americans picked up the phrase in everyday speech across the United States.
What Does “Let’s Blow This Popsicle Stand” Mean Today?
This is a common expression across all age groups and generations. In short, it means leaving the situation, building, or current area quickly. Even though it implies urgency, not all usages of the phrase are negative. “Let’s blow this popsicle stand and head home” is a casual sentence you could say after a night out.
Meanwhile, “This party is getting out of hand. Let’s blow this popsicle stand before the cops show up” is an example of urgency. It’s a flexible phrase that you can use either way.
Other examples include:
“All done? Great, let’s blow this popsicle stand.”
“This is boring. Let’s blow this popsicle stand.”
You can also phrase it as a question. “Ready to blow this popsicle stand?” asks if someone is ready to leave.
Similar Phrases to “Let’s Blow This Popsicle Stand”
During the 60s and 70s, the phrasing “popsicle stand” was switched out for “joint.” As in, “Let’s blow this joint and go see Jimmy.” It means the same thing, but it uses different terms. This is because popsicle stands were no longer as popular as in the 40s and 50s.
The modern definition of “let’s blow this popsicle stand” has nothing to do with anything blowing up, though it used to! It was initially coined in the 1940s and then publicized thanks to Hollywood in 1955.