As Hanukkah approaches with great speed, potato pancakes loom; time to start grating those potatoes. And to recognize the local celebrations of Latkepalooza (or LatkePalooza or Latke-palooza): latke + lallapalooza.

In Philadelphia:

Latkepalooza, Philadelphia’s hugely popular Hanukkah foodie tradition, is back for its 8th year.

The event features gourmet lip-smacking latkes, all with an inventive twist, from some of Philadelphia’s hottest restaurants. (link)

The festivals are all over the country. (The closest to me seems to be in Foster City CA, at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center.)

So much for the portmanteau. On to its second component, probably the event name Lollapalooza:

Lollapalooza … is an annual music festival featuring popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock and hip hop bands, dance and comedy performances, and craft booths. It has also provided a platform for non-profit and political groups. (link)

The musical event name is the basis for a large collection of -palooza names based on the common noun lollapolooza or lallapalooza ‘something outstandingly good of its kind; an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event’ (for which, see below). Latkepalooza looks like a straightforward portmanteau, but there are others in which -palooza seems to have become a libfix (Cat-a-palooza), and a great many in which it’s been fully liberated as a separate word: Polar Palooza, Parents Palooza, Artists Palooza, Puzzle Palooza, and many more.

The OED2 entry for the full noun is under the spelling lallapaloosa, though it supplies alternative spellings (“also lala-, lolla-, -palooser, -paloozer, etc.”, plus -palootza in one of its cites, and of course -palooza); the OED‘s etymology is, cautiously, “fanciful formation”; and the cites start in 1901.

(Green’s Dictionary of Slang has even more alternative spellings, and an 1892 cite.)

So the exuberant invention been around for over a hundred years and has now spun off a family of Palooza names. Wowza. Bring on the latkes.

[Personal memory: the holiday season in 1968 in Urbana IL, when our friend David Stein supplied the latkes (and sour cream) and Ann (Daingerfield Zwicky) and I supplied the Kentucky country ham and beaten biscuits. (Kentucky country hams are cured and then aged for a long long time, and they don’t much resemble the hams most of you know; to start with, they’re hard.) Yes, totally not kosher, and culturally eccentric, but delicious.]


3 Responses to “Latkepalooza”

  1. St. Pancake’s Day « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Day or National Potato Pancake Day, so you’ll just have to wait for Hanukkah and your local Latkepalooza […]

  2. mooch(er)- words « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] On -palooza words, prompted by latkepalooza, see here. […]

  3. Not X but Y? « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] first case has to do with the expression Latkepalooza: portmanteau (as I claimed) or neologism? And the second with expressions like bi, homo, and hetero: common nouns (as I […]

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