Just wondering where the expression comes from and who is considered responsible for coining it.
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There is no deep mystery here—nor, I think, any especial history to be uncovered, either. A poor man’s substitute is no more mysterious in meaning or origin than is a rich man’s game, a fat man’s curse, or a short man’s bane.
It was initially meant to reference any item in Poor Richard's Almanack. The publication appeared continually from 1732 to 1758.