Gingerbread
Posted: 04 June 2007 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A rapid knocking at the front door, as of a visitor urgently demanding my attention. Opening the door I see no one, but the sound of running footsteps and trills of childish laughter tell me all I need to know. The game of gingerbread is alive and well in Portsmouth in the year 2007, although whether it is still known by that name is a moot point.

We played it ourselves as children, in the 1950s in England, under the name of gingerbread. I see from a quick google that it is known in some parts as Knock-A-Door-Run, witness the Anti Knock-A-Door-Run device described on this Half-Bakery page; a comment there from a ‘Dr Bob’ indicates that he knew the game as gingerbread, another correspondent calls it knock-down-ginger.

Nothing relevant in the OED under gingerbread. Any idea how old the term is, whether there’s a US/British divide in terminology, etc?

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Posted: 04 June 2007 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Never heard of it here in the colonies. I’ve always known it as ring-and-run. It’s not in any of the slang dictionaries I just consulted either. It may be a local or regional word.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I remember it as “Ding Dong Ditch” (which is also mentioned at the Half Bakery site).  Widipedia on “Ring and Run” notes that the doors on the council estates were once painted Ginger, thus ”Knock Down Ginger” but there is no citation for that.  Wiki also notes that in the US it’s called “Nigger Knocking” but I’ve never heard that.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Oecolampadius - 04 June 2007 07:39 AM

I remember it as “Ding Dong Ditch” (which is also mentioned at the Half Bakery site).  Widipedia on “Ring and Run” notes that the doors on the council estates were once painted Ginger, thus ”Knock Down Ginger” but there is no citation for that.  Wiki also notes that in the US it’s called “Nigger Knocking” but I’ve never heard that.

That’s interesting. The game probably has hundreds of different regional names. The doors painted ginger has a redolent whiff of codswallop.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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A member of Black Sabbath once recounted a variation in which someone shits in a paper bag, sets it on fire on a doorstep, rings the bell and retreats. You can work out the rest. To his credit he did sound repentant, but not for all those backwards Satanic messages in their records.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Guilty as charged.  We added a bit of spice to the sport by leaving stinkbombs on the doorstep.  We called it tok-tokkie in South Africa.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’m sorry to say, I’ve never heard it called anything _but_ nigger knocking.

Re: Gingerbread - I’ve been entertaining myself all morning imagining street gangs basing their lingo on fairy tales and nursery rhymes… Yo, yo, yo, me and my seven dwarfs are taking a basket to Grandma, if anybody gets in our way, we’ll go all jack and jill on them, then I’m going to get some winken blinken and nod at the pumpkin, but it better not be all Mutha Hubbard up there ... (^_^)

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Posted: 06 June 2007 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Oh, the innocent, bygone days of placing paper bags full of dog excrement on the doorstep, setting them to fire and ringing the doorbell…

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Posted: 07 June 2007 02:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The bag of doo was a halloween trick, wasn’t it?

Ringing a doorbell and running still happens at my house. The lady next door tends children as her way of earning some side change. The older kids pass the tradition of ringing the bell of the old folks house next door down to the the younger, and cuter, tikes.

If they ever quit doing it, I will assume that we are finally over the hill, and too scary to continue the game that I would hate to see pass away.

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Posted: 07 June 2007 04:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Eyehawk, you speak of a topic that has often intrigued me, the distinct culture of children. I can remember thinking as a child that I lived in a complete world that was parallel yet separate from the adult world and as an adult, I believe I was right about that. It’s a world with it’s own distinct culture that is maintained in the same way that all cultures are maintained. I see Paris, I see France, I can see your underpants!

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Posted: 07 June 2007 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Our version (ca. 1970’s, Sacramento) was called doorbell ditch-em. Until googling it (under a number of spellings) with minimal result and reading the Wikipedia article, I’d have thought it was the universal name.

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