Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

That’s A Sack Of Cold Chestnuts

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 1, 2010

One of two sayings Bea Arthur’s character, Dorothy, used often in the television series from “The Golden Girls” was “That’s a sack of cold chestnuts!”  What she meant was that what was supposed to be a hot-button topic was going to be a lot of work resulting in a the realization the topic was a non-issue that had already been discussed or repeated so many times that it was neither interesting nor amusing.

The 1816 English melodrama The Broken Sword — also known as The Torrent of the Valley — written by William Dimond was described as “a Melo-Drama in 2 Acts, adapted from the French” and “a grand melo-drama: interspersed with songs, choruses, and company.” One of the characters in the play is a boor, and at one point he is retelling a tale that makes mention of a cork tree.  The character named Pablo corrects the storyteller immediately by stating:

A chestnut. I have heard you tell the tale these 27 times.

With the addition of the word sack and the word cold to further emphasize that one did not want to revisit certain issues or discussion topics, the phrase “That’s a sack of cold chestnuts!” became popular in the Northeast and Midwest states during the 1880’s.

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One Response to “That’s A Sack Of Cold Chestnuts”

  1. Crickett said

    I thought it was Rue McClanahan’s character (Blanche) that used that phrase. See episode “The Actor.”

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