L’eggo my Eggo!

Recently I’ve been noticing an apparent uptick in “L’eggo my Eggo!” commercials on tv, after a period in which the slogan appeared but was not the focus of Eggo ads. My impression turns out to have been accurate: a 10/27/14 article in Advertising Age. “‘L’Eggo My Eggo’ Tagline Makes Comeback” explained that the slogan had indeed been sidelined for some time but was revived as the centerpiece of the ad campaign last year. The slogan has a number of things going for it: it’s familiar (it’s been around since 1972); it rhymes; it has an attractively vernacular tone to it; and the conceit embodied in it — that Eggo waffles are so delicious that no one would be willing to share one — is entertainingly hyperbolic.

To consider: the history of the food; the history of the slogan; phonological and syntactic notes on the slogan.

Eggo history. From Wikipedia:

Eggo is a brand of frozen waffles in the United States, Canada and Mexico, which is owned by the Kellogg Company. Several varieties are available, including homestyle, blueberry, strawberry, apple cinnamon, buttermilk, and chocolate chip.

Eggo waffles were invented in San Jose, California, by three brothers, Tony, Sam, and Frank Dorsa. In 1953, the Dorsa brothers introduced Eggo frozen waffles to supermarkets throughout the United States. Frozen waffles do not require a waffle iron to prepare.

When the Dorsas first introduced the product it was called “Froffles”, a portmanteau of frozen waffles. However people started referring to them as “eggos” due to their eggy taste. The name caught on and the brothers began using the moniker in marketing. Eventually the name became synonymous with the product and, in 1955, the Dorsa brothers officially changed the name to “Eggo”.

… In 1968, as a means of diversification, the Kellogg Company purchased Eggo. Their advertising slogan — “L’eggo my Eggo” — is well known through their television commercials.

Slogan history. The company’s spelling of the slogan is usually “L’Eggo my Eggo”, to highlight the EGG in the first part, with the result that the apostrophe is oddly placed in it: what’s missing is not something between the L and the E, but something between the E and the G (the vanished T of LET). One result of this is that people not associated with the company frequently dispense with the apostrophe entirely, as in this recipe for a

Leggo my Eggo Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Just like a traditional grilled cheese sandwich all you need is cheese and two Eggo Homestyle waffles.

(#1)

On the content of the slogan (however spelled), from the company site:

Some things are too delicious to share.
EGGO® waffles. Un-shareable since 1972.

From that year, this commercial, featuring actor Gordon Jump (later the station manager in WKRP in Cincinnati):

Phonology, spelling, and syntax.The first part of the slogan is pronounced [lɛgo], with the /t/ of /lɛt go/ elided; this is homophonous with the name of the construction toy Lego, and is parallel to casual-speech [lɛmi] for /lɛt mi/. Note: for almost all speakers, there is no long or double consonant in LEGGO (or LEMME); the doubled consnant letter is there merely to ensure that the vowel is lax [ɛ] and not tense [i].

There are complications with the syntax, however. The idiom let go ‘release one’s hold on’ can stand alone (Let go!), and when it does it has a casual-speech variant [lɛgo]. Used transitively, in standard English the idiom marks a notional object with of — Let go of me! — and let go once again has the casual-speech variant [lɛgo]. But plain transitives are not standard: Let go my hand! is certainly attested, but it’s not standard. So it seems that Leggo my Eggo ‘let go of my Eggo!’ is a borrowing from a non-standard variety.

(I note plain-transitive let go in a number of hymns — “Holding On (and I Won’t Let Go My Faith)”  and “He’ll Never Let Go My Hand”, for instance — with origins and currency in several different varieties, but I have no idea of the sociolinguistic distribution of the usage.)

Bonus: Given the homophony of Lego and leggo, Lego my Eggo was bound to turn up:

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2 Responses to “L’eggo my Eggo!”

  1. Ben Zimmer Says:

    I wonder if the apostrophized spelling of “L’eggo my Eggo” was influenced by “L’eggs” — the Hanes pantyhose in egg-shaped containers, introduced in 1969 (as “Mad Men” fans know). And that in turn could be influenced by French l’ (definite article with elision before a vowel).

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