To Have, To Eat

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Quick, fill in the blank: “have your ______ and eat it too.” Chances are you chose a 4-letter word that starts with the letters C & A. Most native speakers of English know this expression — ever wondered where it came from?

Originally coined by the Duke of Norfolk in 1538, it makes more sense in an earlier form: for centuries, the eating came before the having. Two hundred years after the Duke invented the phrase, Jonathan Swift wrote a line for a character: “She cannot eat her cake and have her cake.” It’s obvious that way right? The cake has been eaten; it’s gone. Duh!

Although the expression evolved to put the eating last, some linguistic purists still insist on the more logical “you can’t eat your cake and have it too.” These sticklers included Ted Kaczinski’s mother, which is why that phrase helped to catch the Unabomber, according to the New York Times.

We like playing with words and turning on its ear the idea that you can’t eat a greeting card. That’s why you can have your card and eat it too when you order from Eat The Fine Print.

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