Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Crisp And Clean And No Caffeine

Posted by Elyse Bruce on May 29, 2013

When American rapper Big Daddy Kane released his song “I Get The Job Done” in 1988, it included the phrase crisp, clean and no caffeine. The expression has been used by those who imply that they are, or what they are doing is, above-board and without artifice.

When PopMatters Film and TV Editor, Cynthia Fuchs reviewed the movie “Coffee and Cigarettes” in the May 20, 2004 edition of PopMatters, she wrote about the return of Jim Jarmusch, and the cast which included such recognizable names as Cate Blanchett, Alfred Molina and Bill Murray. The reviewer shared that the movie was actually a set of 10 vignettes strung together, with coffee and cigarettes being the thread that ran through all of them. At one point in the review, she wrote:

Discussing his innovative combinations of alternative medicine and music (“two planets circling around the same sun”), RZA provides a clever gloss on his own numerologizing and Eastern philosophizing, by way of an acute sense of irony and good humor at his own expense (“Crisp and clean,” he rhymes, “No caffeine”). Both the ZAs are duly entertained by the arrival at their table of waiter Bill Murray (whom they repeatedly call by his full name, as a kind of punctuation to every address, as in, “Are you a bug, Bill Murray?”). When they warn him that caffeine brings on “serious delirium,” Bill Murray glugs the brew straight from the pot, as RZA and GZA watch, amazed.

On December 12, 1999 the Seattle Times published a news article written by Associated Press journalist, Ted Anthony entitled, “Little Utah Town Hits A Gusher: Pure Water From The Ice Ages.” In the second-driest state in the United States of America, an aquifer known as Humbug Well became the center of attention … and a possible source of income for the town in Summit County. The story reported that in September 1998, Weston Groundwater Engineering’s hydrogeologist hit pay dirt … or rather, pay water! 175 gallons per minute worth of water! And midway through the article, the journalist wrote:

City officials didn’t realize it was special at first. Sure, it was crisp and clean, no caffeine. But Ice Age water?

The Reading Eagle published a news story on March 21, 1982 entitled, “Seven-Up Launches Controversial Cola.” The opening paragraph stated that Seven-Up had upset its competitors in the soft-drink industry by running an aggressive ad campaign that helped re-brand it from the Un-Cola to something entirely different. With the FDA warning pregnant woman in 1982 to avoid products with caffeine on the basis that studies showed that heavy doses of caffeine caused birth defects in rats, Seven-Up seized on the opportunity to make the most of the FDA’s warnings. The article stated in part:

Seven-Up, which has lost $8.8 million in the past two years, raised the ire of the rest of the industry earlier this month when it launched a new advertising campaign attacking a basic ingredient of its competitors’ sodas — caffeine.

The ads, featuring popular sports personalities, proclaim, “Seven-Up … Crisp and Clean.  No Caffeine.  Feelin’ Seven-Up.”

Just 3 weeks before that article, the Beaver County Times published an article on March 2, 1982 that quoted Les Zuke, a spokesman for the Seven-Up Co., that the “Seven-Up … Crisp and Clean. No Caffeine. Feelin’ Seven-Up” commercials would be introduced nationwide over the next few days. One ad featured Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Randy White, with a traditional commercial featuring a high-profile sports figure. But it was the one with Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw that was the most controversial as he brushed aside cans of Dr. Pepper, Sunkist Orange, Pepsi, Coke, Mountain Dew and Mello Yello to grab a can of Seven-Up.

But it was the Seven-Up commercials featuring Geoffrey Holder that most people remember.

Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of this idiom, and so 1982 is the year this first came into vogue as a slogan, and making its way into the English language shortly thereafter as an idiom.

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