Donna is watching Good Times right now on TVLand and because I can’t help but devote a certain portion of my brain to the TV whenever it’s on, I heard this juicy morsel:
Michael: Dad, you sure look nice.
James: Yeah, I’m clean as a chitterling.
And unfortunately, it’s been a few minutes, so maybe I’m misquoting a bit. Anyhow, I’d never heard that particular saying before. Chitterlings aren’t something you normally consider clean, so I hit the net hoping to find some info about it. I found the following:
- “Ludacris lookin clean as a chitlin as XM throws him a birtday party…” [source]
- “thankx 4 add n me clean as a chitlin huh? nice suit” [source]
- “These slick Jewtown thieves could pick it clean as a chitlin’ in half an hour.” [source]
- “I’m cleaner than a chitlin washed in Clorox.” [source]
- “Nelly is cleaner than a chitlin.” [source]
So precious few examples to work from. It appears to be African-American in origin, since all of the examples are from AA sources. Of course, chitterlings are pork intestines ingested as food and apparently stink like a sonuva bitch. When I worked in a grocery store (in Greenville, SC), we sold gallon buckets of the stuff. When preparing them, you have to clean them before cooking. To be honest, the very thought is making sick. So now we have origin and speaker group. Problem solved?
If anyone knows of any other occurrences or where the phrase came from, please let me know (in the comments).