Silence is FOO!

a brief history of Foo ...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Smokey Stover Dell 287

Coding foo

Everybody who has read codesamples in whatever language will encounter the famous words “Foo”, “Bar” and “Foobar”. Did your mind wander of on trying to find the meaning of these words? I remember it confused me as I was looking for a deeper meaning.

Well last monday my colleague Michiel send me this link to the Etymology of “Foo”. I first couldn’t believe it. There is an actual RFC document on these words.

According to the RFC “Foo” was invented somewhere around 1938. It’s not clear if it was the Warner Brothers cartoon “The Daffy Doc”, Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” strips or Bill Holman’s “Smokey Stover”.

A Smokey Stover cartoon:


Daffy Duck:

Daffy Duck

Smokey Stover by Bill Holman

Following the “Foo” trail into the past I came across the Smokey Stover website and even a wikipedia page.

Smokey Stover the fireman

Even if Bill Holman wasn’t the inventor of “Foo” I’m sure he was responsible for putting this word in our collective brain. If you have a moment or need a distraction visit the Smokey Stover website and browse through the comics. You’ll see there’s a lot of “Foo” to be found. A good example is the comic “Glass Lake”. The Foo’s are mostly presented as side-kicks of the main story line.

Partial comic as sample

Do take note of all the small details in the drawings.


Following are some of Bill Holman’s FOO quotes:

Divided we fall United we FOO

No FOO is Good FOO!

It’s a long lane that has no FOO

FOO mixed with GOO lessens POOO

A FOO on tap makes one flap

Hear no FOO, See no FOO, Speak no FOO

All’s FOO That ends FOO

Little FOO peep lost her sheep

FOO while the iron is hot

Keep thy FOO and Thy FOO Will Keep Thee

A FOO no artist could paint

Roses are red violets are FOO

The postman always FOOS twice

Merci Beau FOO

FOOLOSOPHY: In telling her age a woman is often shy in more ways than one.

Well for now this was enough FOO for me. But I know now that the next time I read a codesample and come across the word Foo I will think about Smokey Stover with a smile on my face.

Smokey Stover by Bill Holman