Burnt Toast Podcast

The History of the Banana Peel Slipping Gag

July 13, 2017

It’s a cartoon we’ve all seen a million times: There’s a fairly well dressed man walking along, and he’s aloof—and then he’s up-ended, arms flailing, legs following into the air. Maybe he has those little motion lines underneath him, tracing where his feet were before they left the ground.

You saw this coming, of course, because in the frame before, there’s a banana peel lying in wait.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

The banana peel is so synonymous with slipping that we know how this joke ends right when it starts. We’ve seen it in cartoons just like this, in comedy pratfalls, on television.

Shop the Story

How did this happen? Did anyone ever really slip on a banana peel? And... why a banana? Why not an orange? Or... any fruit that’s actually grown here in the U.S.?

We answer those questions, and trace the gag allllll the way back on today's episode of Burnt Toast.

Download the episode here—or stream it above. And hit "subscribe" to get each new episode downloaded to your phone automatically.

To learn more about our show, head here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.

1 Comment

marc510 July 20, 2017
Very interesting, especially the exploration of food and class.
The Mythbusters team tackled the myth that stepping on a banana peel guarantees a slip and fall. As you'd expect, the myth was busted, because sometimes the banana peel slips along the surface, and sometimes it sticks. It depends on a lot of things, like the angle at which you hit the peel, what is underneath the peel, how ripe it was, and so on. It's episode 116 and very briefly summarized by MythResults: https://mythresults.com/banana-slip-double-dip