I saw a vernacular poem that appears to have been passed down and passed around in various parts of the UK. A couple of different versions:

Yum yum
Pig's bum
Wrap it up
In chewing gum

Have a slice
Very nice!

Yum yum
Pig's bum

My first question is why wrap it up in chewing gum?

This version is purportedly Irish:

Yum, yum, pig's bum,
Cabbage and potatoes.

Another one:

Yum yum bubble gum
stick it up the teachers bum
if it sticks
pull her tits
and turn it into weetabix.

Where did this verse originate?

  • 3
    Why wrap it up in chewing gum? The answer might be as simple as "because it rhymes", without bothering about whether it makes sense or not.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 17:44
  • 1
    Also referred on Yahoo Answers, someone's blog, and BBC Strictly Come Dancing. The usual source for this would be the Opies' Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, but sadly I don't own a copy to check.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 17:49
  • Yum yum bubble gum, stick it up your mother's bum. If it sticks, pull down her knick-knicks. Recited to me by my children in Bristol c. 1985. Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 21:07
  • Captain Cook did a "pook" behind the cabin door. The cat came up, and licked it up, and said "Can I have some more?" Told to me c. 1957 by another kid (London). Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 21:08
  • My mum always says > Yum yum pig's bum If I have a party you can’t come, bread without butter, tea without rum, yum yum pig's bum
    – annie
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


In Dorothy Baker's The Street, a 1951 novel about working-class people in the West Midlands, the rhyme is reproduced as:

Ham, ham, pig's bum,
When I have a party
You shan't come.
Bread without butter
Tea without sugar
Ham, ham, pig's bum.

(Recited by a schoolgirl to her teacher when asked if anybody in the class could say some poetry.)

Ham and pig's bum are obviously semantically connected. I'd imagine that subsequent variants are arising as children playing with sounds and finding rhymes for "bum". That is certainly the most enticing word to keep in the song and to highlight by wordplay. In the sibling answer by annie is an intermediate form, where we have a rhyme for "bum" with "rum" instead of "sugar", plus the replacement of "ham" with "yum" for yet another rhyme.

The root imagery here is common to many nursery rhymes - punishment based on denying food, or some other treat such as a party invitation. A 1794 version (the oldest recorded version) of the old woman who lived in a shoe is:

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread;
She whipp'd all their bums, and sent them to bed.

I'm presenting this not as a strict precursor, but as evidence that there are lots of songs and rhymes for children which include the same sorts of words and ideas.

I think the "pig's bum" rhymes seem more adapted to playground chants or skipping rhymes, given the rhythm and nonsensical content, and especially the use of a taboo word. But the 1951 example, in addition, is perhaps a little closer to conventional nursery rhymes. It may not be possible to find a real answer for where this particular one originated, given the informal nature of the material.

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