General

From Dooby Dooby Doo to Dilly Dilly: The Beer Slogan Zeitgeist

Image Credit: Taylor Grote

The Gist: Love it or hate it, people who like and use the phrase Dilly Dilly are happier than those who do not.


You can call me humorless. You can say I’m spoiling fun. But, I absolutely despise “Dilly Dilly” and cringe every time I hear it. Who decided this was a good idea?

It’s insane to me. About a year ago, some copywriter in his mid-20s pitched the idea of “dilly dilly” to a befuddled room of other creatives who probably just kind of shrugged and agreed to put it in the deck to show the client, and now 12 months later there are shirts with the phrase on it and it’s part of the zeitgeist. That’s what I imagine at least. God help me if there was more effort put into it than that, because if so my head would explode like the scene from Scanners.

I’m not immune to adopting new phrases I think are cool. When I heard Max B describe something as “wavy” on Kanye West’s Life of Pablo album, I started saying wavy. Still do, in fact. I like it. Good way to describe somebody or something that is just rolling and has some good vibes.

But, I don’t see the two things as similar at all. One is a cultural tastemaker, the other is a beer commercial.  I guess I have to acknowledge that different people are influenced by different things, and for some, the Budweiser brand is the Yeezy to their slang. After all, this isn’t the first time this has happened. I’m old enough to remember “Wazzupp,” “Dooby dooby doo,” and those damned frogs.

It happens often enough that I started to wonder: who are these people? While at a bar (drinking not-Budweiser) around the holidays, I remember joking with my friends that I would love to do an ethnography of someone that says beer commercial slogans in real life. I don’t know anybody that says “dilly dilly” in real life. But they’re out there! It was just banned from the Masters!

So, like I always do, I let my curiosity get the better of me and I asked.

Good heavens.

More than 1 in 10 American adults say “dilly dilly” in their life. Another 1 in 5 like it, but don’t say it (Is it shame? Confidence?). And the most depressing group is luckily the smallest: 2% of American adults don’t like it, but they say it. Gotta fit in, after all. 65% of those folks are men, by the way, so next time one of your guy friends says “dilly dilly” and doesn’t seem to be that into it, you can offer refuge.

One thing that blew my mind: it’s not just a gender difference. While women are in the enviable position of being considerably more likely to have never heard the phrase “dilly dilly,” they’re still equally likely to say it and like it. Age does play a role though, as those 18-29 are the most likely to say it, as does region: those in the West are least likely.

Affluence plays a role, as well. While those who make $50k per year or under are the least likely to have heard of “dilly dilly,” they’re also the most likely to say it, particularly once we rebase to exclude those who are unaware. But, they’re not the only ones who like it! Those who make $100k+ per year are actually more likely to have a positive impression of the phrase—they just don’t say it out loud. Perhaps some of that classic affluent shame of the proletariat shining through?

I know what you’re thinking. Or, at least I know what I was thinking at this point of the analysis, and I can’t help but assume it’s on your mind, too, since it’s what everything seems to be about anymore. Dammit, is this going to be another political Trumpism vs. Elites articles? Because if so, tell me now so I can jump into the nearest river instead of reading it.

Good news, dear reader: You can stay dry. “Dilly dilly” is the grand unifier. Both Republicans and Democrats alike equally say the phrase, as do those who support Trump personally and those who do not. So while it may appear to be a coastal elite vs. the working class thing at the initial crosstab, it appears to be more about a type of person than anything else. “Dilly dilly” is bringing this country together.

So, who is this person?

  • They’re confident. 1 in 5 of those who think they’re more physically attractive than others say “dilly dilly,” compared to 7% who think they’re less physically attractive. But, they’re also more likely to consider themselves overweight, so this is all about body positivity.
  • They’re armed. 1 in 4 gun owners say dilly dilly, compared to only 1 in 10 non-owners. You can pry their poorly-conceived beer phrases from their cold, dead hands.
  • They’re football fans. NFL fans are 1.5x as likely as NBA fans to say it, further cementing my correct stance that the NBA is easily the best professional sports league. In fact, they’re into sports in general, as nearly half of those who say it say sports are important to them.
    • Side note: 1 in 3 of those who say “dilly dilly” even though they don’t like it are people who say sports are a passion of theirs. So, perhaps these folks are just trying to keep up with their other sports-loving friends.
  • Most importantly, they’re happy. Check the crosstab below.

The more I look at it, the more these dilly dilly folks seem to have something figured out that I don’t. They might be the waviest people out there. You win this round, beer commercials.

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