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TFW You Realize a Common Phrase Is Part of a Century-Long Fossil Fuel Propaganda Push

A photo illustration of a 1950s housewife cooking on a gas stove.

Friends, what I’m about to tell you is going to either thrill, bore, or delight you based on how easily entertained/into etymology you are. See, I have been following the latest ridiculous hill on which conservatives are choosing to die with abject delight because who would have thought it would be gas stoves? Not I!

For those of you who value your time enough to stay off social media, I will summarize it for you: Republicans have decided that “they” are coming for “your” gas stoves. What this nothing burger is actually based on is this, from The New York Times:

Critics were pushing back hard on Wednesday against recent comments made by Richard Trumka Jr., a commissioner of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, that his agency might take some regulatory action in the face of growing research that links gas stoves to pollutants that harm both human health and the environment.

“This is a hidden hazard,” Mr. Trumka said in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

Basically, someone you never heard of in a commission you really don’t think of, said a throwaway comment to a publication you most likely don’t subscribe to, and since the Republicans need to manufacture outrage, here we are!

So, a little background on me: I believe ghosts are real, I once yelled at John Stamos for trying to cut in line in front of me at a cash bar, and my day job is in marketing. The last part is the most important part for today’s post, but one day remind me to tell you about Stamos. Part of what I’ve done in my career for the past (almost) 20 years is creating slogans and branding for products, services, companies, and whatnot. So get out your tinfoil hat, because Big Gas has had a chokehold on American society for a long time.

You know the phrase “now you’re cooking with gas”? Someone like me came up with that in the ’30s to sell Americans gas stoves. The idea behind the phrase was to convey that cooking with gas is more effective than cooking with an electric stove. It was used in Bob Hope’s radio show in scripts, turning it into the “where’s the beef?” of its day, and it’s been around for so long that unless you were alive in the ’30s you weren’t there for its origins but you heard it said so often you probably started saying it too.

So much of what is part of American culture was created by people like me just trying to sell you stuff. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Yeah, he was created as a promotional giveaway for shoppers at the Montgomery Ward department store. Rice Krispie Treats? The clue is right there in the name if you think about it, invented in “1939 by the Kellogg Home Economics Department.” That’s Kellogg as in the cereal company, and Rice Krispie Treats were invented in response to a request by a youth organization asking for ideas for a treat they could fundraise off of, and thus, a bakesale legend was born. Even the phrase “the greatest thing since sliced bread” is an adaptation of the slogan of the first commercially available sliced sliced bread when it came out: “The greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”

A huge component of American society is designed to make us good little consumers, and a lot of our idioms have their origins around that. Not much you can do about it, but I’m convinced that one day in the near future, I just helped your team out at trivia night with the anecdotes I provided here, so you’re welcome.

(featured image: SportSuburban on

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