I’m back to inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent researches.
Many have heard the quote “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy” attributed to Benjamin Franklin; a few less know that our friend Ben didn’t really say that, and that the quote is paraphrasing and taking poetic liberty regarding wine. But just when and where did the misquoting of the original Benjamin Franklin quote occur?
You are spot-on about this originally being a wine quote. In an undated letter to the Abbe Morellet, Franklin wrote (this is a translation of the original French): “We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!”
Finding the earliest misquoting of Franklin is of course very difficult. When I search LexisNexis, the earliest I find for the “beer” version is Beverage World, Feb. 1, 1996. It makes sense that the transition from extolling wine to extolling beer would happen in the era of Homer Simpson. Can one of the ace researchers who regularly comments on my postings here push it back further than 1996?
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?