Roly(-)Polies

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, featuring roly polies:

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Roly polies the fascinating creatures. Then there’s Jam Roly-Poly, the British sweet; the roly-poly toy; Roly Poly, the chain of sandwich shops; and the adjective roly-poly ‘having a round, plump appearance’, which leads us to the Australian film The Roly Poly Man. All are rooted in the verb roll, in various uses.

Woodlice. From Wikipedia:

Armadillidiidae is a family of woodlice, a terrestrial crustacean group in the order Isopoda. Unlike members of other woodlouse families, members of this family can roll into a ball, an ability they share with the outwardly similar but unrelated pill millipedes and other animals. It is this ability which gives woodlice in this family their common names of pill bugs, roly polies , or doodle bugs. The best known species in the family is Armadillidium vulgare, the common pill bug.

Woodlice in the family Armadillidiidae are able to form their bodies into a ball shape, in a process known as conglobation [an excellent word]. This behaviour is shared with pill millipedes (which are often confused with pill bugs), armadillos [note the pillbug family name Armadillidiidae] and cuckoo wasps. It may be triggered by stimuli such as vibrations or pressure, and is a key defence against predation; it may also reduce respiratory water losses.

Pill-bugs can be considered pests of homes and gardens. [They feed primarily on decaying leaf and plant matter, rotting wood, etc.] They are, however, cherished among children, who enjoy keeping them as pets. Keeping a pet pill bug requires a very moist habitat with limited light. They can live for about two to three years.

On the prowl and in a ball:

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Jam Roly-Poly. From Wikipedia:

Jam Roly-Poly, DeCleats’ Arm, Dead Man’s Arm or Dead Man’s Leg is a traditional British pudding probably first created in the early 19th century. It is a flat-rolled suet pudding, which is then spread with jam and rolled up, similar to a Swiss roll, then steamed or baked. In days past, Jam Roly-Poly was also known as shirt-sleeve pudding, because it was often steamed and served in an old shirt-sleeve. Because of this, another nickname for the pudding was dead-man’s arm, or dead man’s leg.

Jam Roly-Poly features in Mrs Beeton’s cookery book, as Roly-Poly Jam Pudding. This pudding is one of a range of puddings that are now considered part of the classic desserts of the mid 20th century British school dinners. Much loved, as part of the nostalgia of growing up for some older British adults, Jam Roly-Poly is considered alongside sticky toffee pudding and spotted dick pudding as an essential part of their childhood diet.

Steamed cranberry roly-poly:

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Toys. From Wikipedia:

A roly-poly toy, round-bottomed doll, tilting doll, tumbler or wobbly man is a toy that rights itself when pushed over. The bottom of a roly-poly toy is round, roughly a hemisphere. Many roly-poly toys are hollow, with a weight inside the bottom. They have a center of mass below the center of the hemisphere, so that any tilting raises the center of mass. When such a toy is pushed over, it wobbles for a few moments while it seeks the upright orientation, which has an equilibrium at the minimum gravitational potential energy.

A wooden roly-poly toy:

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Sandwich shops. From Wikipedia:

Roly Poly is an American chain of sandwich stores. They first opened their doors in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996. At one point in the early 2000s they had over 170 franchises in 27 states, but have since declined to about 67 locations in 19 states in early 2015.

The first Roly Poly Sandwich Shop opened in 1997 in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia. Company founders Linda Wolf and Julie Reid had been rolling sandwiches in their shops in New Canaan, Connecticut (1986) and in Key West, Florida (1997) before building their franchise system.

Yes, rolling sandwiches, hence the name. A platter of sandwiches and accompaniments:

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The exterior of the Roly Poly shop in Ann Arbor MI:

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Roly-poly people. The adjective roly-poly is applied to people who are round and plump — so that they would roll if you pushed them. Like the protagonist of the 1994 Australian movie The Roly Poly Man (directed by Bill Young):

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From a 5/5/15 summary on the NYT site (with punctuation as in the original):

Heads are a poppin’ everywhere in this Australian private-eye movie that combines elements of horror and science fiction. Dirk Trent is not the classic movie PI. He is fat, clumsy, and nerdy. While tracking down a woman’s unfaithful husband, his assistant films what at first seems to be the husband murdering his secretary in a cheap motel. Upon closer examination, Trent deduces that the husband didn’t kill her because his head exploded first. Soon he discovers a whole series of people whose heads have blown up. His investigations lead him to Dr. Henderson who has been conducting odd experiments to cure brain tumors. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

What’s crucial for the title is that Dirk Trent is fat.

2 Responses to “Roly(-)Polies”

  1. Dennis Preston Says:

    Don’t forget “Roly-Poly, Momma’s Little Fat Boy” by the great Bob Wills (covered nicely by Asleep at the Wheel).

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Dennis here opens the door to an enormous collection of “roly poly” songs. I arbitrarily cut off my posting at this point, but I welcome those who want to mention their favorites.

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