What is the origin of "cool beans"? I know some sites (wiktionary) claim it's from the Cheech & Chong 1978 movie Up in Smoke, but I'm talking to people who remember it being used earlier. (USA).

I remember using the phrase in the mid-1980s (elementary school in Maryland) , and I assumed it had to do with Jelly Belly (a gourmet jelly bean company).

  • I don't know why the idea that it originated with Cheech & Chong persists, but the word "beans" does not actually appear in any of the transcripts. caption files, or screenplays I have found online. – choster May 11 at 0:58

The Oxford English Dictionary's earliest attestation for "cool beans" is from the 1985 book Grandpa Ritz and the Luscious Lovelies:

"Oh, wow! Cool beans!" I whispered.

  • Elsewhere in the same book (page 30): "'It's cool beans!' That's what Betsy always says when she thinks something is fantastic, and I couldn't help wondering what she'd say if she could see me now. ..." J.E. Lighter, Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1994) notes that in the early 20th century "beans!" by itself was "used to indicate surprise, annoyance, disbelief, etc."; Lighter cites an example from O. Johnson, Stover at Yale (1911): "Oh, beans!" This may be an unrelated usage, however. – Sven Yargs May 11 at 2:51

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