It seems saying criss cross applesauce for sitting cross legged goes back to the seventies. That’s the earliest reference I’ve found to it in print. It can be found in the book called “Elementary Physical Education: A Developmental Approach” (1978) by Daniel D. Arnheim, Robert A. Pestolesi. In that book they recommended using the expression to be culturally sensitive, “Use inclusive language: Say, ‘boys and girls,’ ‘folks,’ ‘everyone,’ or ‘you all.’ Don’t use stereotypical phrases, such as ‘sit Indian style’ or ‘sit tailor style’; instead, say ‘sit with your legs crossed’ or ‘sit crisscross apple sauce.’”
According to Wiktionary, “Generally used by nursery school and primary school teachers to children, sometimes followed by ‘spoons in the bowl’ to mean ‘hands in your lap’, strengthening analogy with a bowl of applesauce; alternatively, ‘spoons in your bowl’ or ‘spoons in your lap’.”
It’s my impression that it’s also said for the sound of it (sometimes in a sing-song voice) and that people don’t think about the pc aspect of it so much any more. It’s just the expression that teachers use now.
There are rhymes that use the phrase that go back a little earlier. One is called Criss Cross Applesauce and is played on the child’s back. It’s similar to the X Marks the Spot rhyme.
There’s a reference to “Criss cross applesauce” in a book called “Street Games” (1976) by Alan Milberg. It says, “The final part of the ritual [to decide the rules of a game] is called ‘cementing in the rules.’ Once the leader specifies what should or should not be included in the game, he sings, ‘Crisscross applesauce…’” Is anyone familiar with using it in this way?
As an aside, there’s also a book called “Criss-Cross. Applesauce” (1978) Tomé Do Paola. It’s about reading together as a family.
Did anyone use the expression as part of any other rhymes or games? Please let us know in the comments below.
Note: You can find more Criss Cross Applesauce Games and Rhymes on Mama Lisa’s Blog.
This article was posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2019 at 6:38 pm and is filed under American Nursery Rhymes, Countries & Cultures, Criss-Cross Applesauce, England, Games Around the World, Mama Lisa, Nursery Rhymes, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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