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.)