« The most important part of the story | Main | That golden age »

The pickles are ours

We had surmised that the likeliest reason for our inability to locate documentary proof of The Sun’s having published the headline You can put pickles up yourself was that it had appeared in an early edition of the paper and had then been subbed after someone noticed the unintended double meaning. (Our archive is limited to final editions of the paper.)

Now comes a first-person account from one Phil Evans validating The Sun’s claim to the headline:

“Being 73, my memory is suspect, but here's what I recall.

“The headline appeared in The Evening Sun in the 1960s. At the time I was a young city editor. On the day in question, the first copies of the first edition arrived in the newsroom around 10 a.m., I spotted the headline on the lead story in the food section. I went immediately to the Women's Department and confronted the food editor, a spinster of considerable age, and suggested that the headline be changed. When she asked why, I decided that an explanation would be awkward and took it upon myself to make the change, which I did before the next edition. So, the headline ran in just one of the five daily editions The Evening Sun was producing in those days. I don't know if the same headline ever appeared in The Washington Post.”

Mr. Evans’ memory is just fine with us, and The Sun’s claim, or more properly The Evening Sun's claim, to the (somewhat dubious) honor of having produced this legendary headline stands unchallenged.

Posted by John McIntyre at 5:30 PM | | Comments (1)


When I was at the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., we changed this headline between editions because it caused snickers on the desk:

A black priest pulls out

The headline was on the op-ed page, so the change was the rare instance where news editors crossed the border into editorial territory. This was on a Friday night, and the editorial staff was long gone.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected