Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Grammar

How Much a Bushel and Peck Really Is

A recent commercial has resurrected a song made popular in the 50s with two old units of measurement: the bushel and peck.

I first heard the terms bushel and peck when I was a kid, and it had to do with fresh vegetables.

When I was a kid, my grandmother would occasionally acquire a large wooden basket of snap peas or other fresh produce. When I was a kid, the wooden bushel baskets were about 20 inches tall; since then, a wider, shorter variety has become more popular. It was later that I learned of the alternate measurement known as the peck.

In November of 1950, the song “A Bushel and a Peck” made its debut during the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. The following year, Doris Day’s recording of the song made it a big hit.

But the old bushel and peck are making a comeback for a new generation, thanks to, of all things, an insurance commercial. State Farm introduced this spot featuring the song:

The lyric, “I love you a bushel and a peck,” means “I love you a lot,” as if a bushel isn’t enough to contain the affection and the second unit of measurement is necessary.

One definition of bushel is a “large quantity,” which reinforces the notion that the singer loves his or her listener more than a large quantity.

In terms of volume, a bushel refers to eight gallons of dry goods and is customarily used to measure amounts of produce or grains. But a bushel is often used as a measure of weight for different items, and here’s where it might get a bit confusing: the total weight in a bushel varies depends on what’s being weighed: a bushel of barley, for example, is 48 pounds, but a bushel of soybeans is about 60 pounds and a bushel of shelled maize is about 56 pounds.

A peck is about two gallons of dry goods, which means that four pecks make a bushel.

In the song, a bushel and peck would be five pecks. (Somehow, I don’t think that would sound as good, though.)

2 Comments

  1. So a 10 gallon hat would be a bushel and a peck. Hmm… I think I will stick with a 10 gallon hat, somehow “I’m wearing a bushel and a peck hat just doesn’t sound right. 🙂

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Patrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.