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In the musical "Chicago", in the song "All That Jazz", there are references to Aspirin that I don't understand. I was hoping that someone would be able to provide some historical context.

The specific lines are:

Velma: Hold on, hon
We're gonna bunny hug
I bought some Aspirin
Down at United Drug

In case you shake apart
And want a brand-new start
To do that -

Velma & Company: Jazz!

The most I've been able to find from searching google is information about the "Chicago Tylenol Murders", but this doesn't seem to fit the timeline of the musical, nor the context of the song.

  • really interesting question. It was fun to research it and fun to read the answers. Good Job. – JMS Mar 2 '18 at 18:48
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The word "aspirin" for long was used as an euphemism for "condoms".

To speak about condoms was considered indecent. They were sold at the same place - drugstore, and in small paper packages, as aspirin. So, the word "aspirin" started to be used as an euphemism.

There was even an old anecdote about it:

An interview in the television study for a position of an announcer.

A guy with tic comes. He winks incessantly.

Everything is excellent, but they say:

-- Sorry, your tic could be a problem.

-- Oh, it is not a problem, one aspirin an I am OK.

The guy looks in pockets, pulls out several heaps of condoms, at last finds a package of aspirin, swallows it the tic stops and he passes all remaining tests.

-- You are fine, but we are a decent company and don't want to take such sexual aggressor.

-- You mean these condoms? Try to ask for an aspirin in a drugstore and wink!

  • Interesting! What is the source of the anecdote? – AllInOne Mar 2 '18 at 12:30
  • I have read it as an example of English humour when I studied English in about 1976. The book was taken in a library and was not new already. Apparently, it was published in relatively free years of 65-67. To get into Russian editions of English textbooks also took much time. So, the anecdote should be definitely more than ten years old then. – Gangnus Mar 2 '18 at 13:10
  • This, combined with "Bunny Hug" being the name of a dance that is supposed to resemble rabbits having sex, makes a fairly convincing argument. Thank you! – Bradley Uffner Mar 2 '18 at 14:03
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Here is what I found.. Aspirin seems to be the lyric which best translates into the 21st century

Slang City
Hold on, hon
We're gonna bunny hug
*bunny hug Thanks to reader Jim P., who writes "That actually refers to a dance popular in the 1920s called the Bunny Hug which apparently was meant to simulate rabbits having sex." I'd like to see that! Or maybe not...

Bunny Hug Video

.

Slang City
I bought some aspirin down at United Drug
in anticipation of tomorrow's hangover

In case you shake apart
And want a brand-new start
To do that -

Shimmy shake dance by wiggling the body from side to side

That's pretty much how I dance now.

  • I'm now wondering the shimmy shake dance referenced is related directly to aspirin's potential side effect of causing shaking with high doses. – Bradley Uffner Mar 2 '18 at 4:25
  • Yes, I agree. That does fit too with - "and want a brand-new start".. In fact the more I think of it the better it fits, over hang over. – JMS Mar 2 '18 at 4:30
  • Later in the song, the line "lucky Lindy never flew so high" is talking about getting high, most likely from cocaine, which was very trendy at the time, I wonder if it could also be a reference to the urban legend that combining cocaine and aspirin resulted in an even better high. – Bradley Uffner Mar 2 '18 at 10:33

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