Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post showcases examples of the children’s rhyme “I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag” that mention Michael Jackson.
This post is divided into two sections:
A. “I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag” rhymes that mention Michael Jackson and include verses from “Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky” hand clap rhymes.
B. “I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag” rhymes that mention Michael Jackson but don’t include verse from “Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky” rhymes.
Information and my comments about these rhymes are included in this post.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and recreational purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
This is part of an ongoing pancocojams series on examples of children’s recreational rhymes that include the name of pop star Michael Jackson.
Click the “Michael Jackson children’s rhymes” for more posts in this series.
PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR’S NOTE
By “children’s rhymes” I mean “recreational rhymes” that are may or may not have been composed by children, but are documented as being chanted by children while jumping rope, playing hand clap games, recited as taunting rhymes or otherwise.
Most of these examples contain no information about how the rhyme is performed. However, I believe that most of these examples are either hand clap rhymes or jump rope rhymes.
Since at least 2010, I have saved a number of rhymes from discussion threads for YouTube children’s rhyme videos as well as from a number of other online websites, including my now inactive cocojams cultural website.
I decided to re-visit my files on children’s rhymes after learning that on February 28, 2019 YouTube disallowed comments from most videos that feature children under 13 years. That policy resulted in the deletion of all comments from those affected videos.
This post presents only a portion of the children’s rhymes that mention Michael Jackson that I’ve collected online. Some of the examples that are featured in this post have been included in previously published pancocojams posts.
Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2019/11/my-comments-about-youtubes-policy.html for this closely related pancocojams post entitled “My Comments About YouTube’s Policy Enacted February 2019 Which Disallows Comments For Most YouTube Children’s Videos”.
Also, click the tags given below for more examples of YouTube comments from children’s rhyme videos.
EXPLANATIONS & COMMENTS ABOUT SOME OF THE REFERENCES IN THESE RHYMES
Many of the rhymes that mention pop star Michael Jackson obliquely refer to the accident in which Michael Jackson burned his head while filming a television commercial for Pepsi.
January 27, 1984: Michael Jackson’s hair catches fire during Pepsi commercial
The King of Pop suffered serious burns when pyrotechnics ignited his hair, leaving him reliant on the painkillers which contributed to his early death 24 years later.
The 25-year-old, later dubbed the ‘King of Pop’, was filming a staged concert performance for a new advertising campaign by Pepsi with members of his family, when sparks from a pyrotechnic explosion ignited his hair.”
Michael Jackson was singing a re-worked version of his hit song “Billie Jean” when this accident occurred.
Some of these rhymes and other children’s rhymes that mention Michael Jackson also obliquely refer to what has been called “the cola wars”.
The long-time rival soft drink producers The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have engaged mutually-targeted marketing campaigns for the direct competition between each company’s product lines, especially their flagship colas, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Beginning in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the intensity of these campaigns have led to them, and the competition in general, being known as the cola wars.
During the peak of the cola wars, as Coca-Cola saw its flagship product losing market share to Pepsi, as well as to Diet Coke and competitors’ products, the company considered a change to the beverage’s formula and flavor. In April 1985, The Coca-Cola Company introduced its new formula for Coca-Cola, which became popularly known as “New Coke”. Consumer backlash to the change led to the company making a strategic retreat on July 11, 1985, announcing its plans to bring back the previous formula under the name “Coca-Cola Classic”.”…
It’s doubtful that many children who recite/d rhymes that mention Michael Jackson are aware of the background to the words that these rhymes.
“I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag” rhymes may be chanted alone, but are usually included in the long form versions of “Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky” and/or as an introduction to adapted versions of “Coca Cola Came To Town” rhyme that are renamed “Michael Jackson Came To Town”. I haven’t found this rhyme combined with any other children’s rhyme. [Examples of “Michael Jackson Came To Town” rhymes will be showcased in another pancocojams post.]
Usually those rhymes mention Pop star Michael Jackson or (since his death) some other celebrity. The second line of that rhyme usually consists of a negative comment about Michael Jackson or that celebrity. This is done by using a word that rhymes with “flag” (i.e. “fag”, “gag”) or word that is a near rhyme with “flag” such as “bad” or “dad”.
These “Michael Jackson” rhymes often continue by alluding to the accident which occurred when Michael Jackson’s hair was burned by a fire works malfunction while filming a television commercial for Pepsi Cola. At that time Michael Jackson was singing a form of his hit song “Billy Jean”.” After that verse, many of those rhymes continue by adding a form of the “Coca Cola Came To Town” rhyme.
Given the words of these “I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag” rhymes, my guess is that the earliest examples of these rhymes were chanted in 1984 or 1985, after Michael Jackson burned his hair while filming a Pepsi Cola commercial.
Since that Pop artist’s sudden death in June 2009, I’ve found a few other examples of this rhyme that substitute another celebrity’s name for Michael Jackson. It appears to me that the celebrity who is named in this insult rhyme is usually someone who is disliked by fans of a particular music genre.
There are LOTS of examples of (what I refer to as) the “Michael Jackson versions” of “Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky”. Those examples often include another word that rhymes with “gag”, including the offensive word “fag”. Some other examples are “Michael Jackson stinks so bad”, “Michael Jackson sings so bad”, “Michael Jackson is a drag”, “Michael Jackson dances rad”, and even “Michael Jackson is my dad”.
I’ve included examples of these rhymes that include the word “fag” for the folkloric record. However, the word “fag” is an offensive referent for people who are homosexual, and shouldn’t be used.
Some of the commenters who included that word in their examples wrote that when they chanted that rhyme, they didn’t know what “fag” meant. Here’s a comment from a blogger in that “Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky” Mudcat thread about the substitution of another celebrity’s name for Michael Jackson’s name and about the use of the word “fag”:
“Sadly we really did and still do sing the line about Michael Jackson being a fag. In elementary and middle school we also had a similar rhyme (“I pledge allegiance to the flag and Michael Jackson is a fag. He used to play with little toys but now he plays with little boys.”) and I can remember saying it at a very young age, before I had any idea what a ‘fag’ was. It was meant to be innocent and not offensive to anybody. Also, since Michael Jackson’s death (may he R.I.P.) many people have substituted Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus for Michael Jackson or changed that line to “Michael Jackson makes me gag”. My particular group of friends has done both (“Lady Gaga makes me gag”) and I think it’s kind of a nice modern version of the song.” Guest,guest-Mandi, age 14, 24 Dec 10, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94034, Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
EXAMPLES OF “DOWN BY THE BANKS OF THE HANKY PANKY” RHYMES THAT MENTION MICHAEL JACKSON & INCLUDE “I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG” LINES
These examples are divided into two categories and are numbered in no particular order within those categories.
“Michael Jackson” is given in italics in these examples to highlight that name.
The online source for each example is given after the rhyme.
A. Examples of these rhymes that include “Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky” verses
“Michael Jackson (alternate version):
I pledge allegience to the flag; Michael Jackson is a fag.
Pepsi Cola burnt him up- now he’s drinking 7UP!
7UP has no caffiene; Now he’s singing Billie Jean.
Billie Jean was not his lover and his nose is made of rubber!
Rubberface, but don’t repeat it- now his dance steps are to Beat It.
Beat It now & don’t you tell her this fine tale about the Thriller.”
2. My friends play it like this:
Down by the bank by the hanky panky
where the bullfrogs jumps from bank to bank
We’re sayin ep op ep op op
skiddle diddle kernal pop!
I pledge alligence to the flag
Micheal Jackson makes me gag
Coca Cola messed him up
now we’re drinking 7up
7up has no caffine
now we’re drinking gassoline
Gassoline not good for you
now we’re drinking Mt. Dew
Mt. Dew fell off the Mt.
now we’re drinking from a fountain
The fountain broke
and now we’re back to drinking coke
-Guest, 17 Mar 08, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94034, Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
3. “Down by the banks of the hanky panky.
Where the bullfrog jumps from bank to bank. Say As Es Is Os ees I did it.
Bing Bong your daddy smells like King Kong.
I pledge allegiance to the flag
Michael Jackson makes me gag.
Coca-cola burnt him up
Now we’re talkin 7 up
7 up has no caffeine
Now we’re talking Billy Jean
Billy jean went out of style.
Now we’re talking Bobby Brown.
B-o-b-b-y B-r-o-w-n went out of town
GUEST,amy in Kentucky, 01 May 14; http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94034, Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
4. “I learned it like this:
Down by the banks of the hanky panky
where the bullfrog jumps from bank to bank
saying e, i, o, u, chilly willy ding dong
lets play a game of ping pong,
i pledge alligence to the flag
Michael Jackson dances rad,
coca cola bust it up,
now were talking 7 up,
7 up has no caffiene,
now were talking billie jean,
billie jean ran out of sight,
now were talking bobby brown
had a big frown
-marymuch, http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=ZC8INeM0w5A, November 2011
5. “I learned it as “Down by the banks of the hanky pank, where the bull frogs jump from bank to bank, saying ees, ise, opps, oops. East side dally ding-dong. Pledge allegiance to the the flag, Michael Jackson is a fag [I didn’t know what this word was when I was 5…]. Coca-cola burned his butt, now he’s drinking 7-up. 7-up has no caffeine, now he’s drinking gasoline. Gasoline has no flavor, no he’s eating Life Savors.”
-xeCh0x, 2010, comment in “Down on the Banks of the Hanky PankyM”, published by Erin Schmidt, Sep 14, 2006, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC8INeM0w5A
6. “I learned it “down by the banks of the hanky banky where the bull frog jumps from bank to bankie sayin eeps ipse ooope oops i pledge allegence to the flag michael Jackson makes me gag cococola burns me up now were talking 7-up. 7-up has no caffene now were talking billy jean. billy jean is out of sight now were talking dynamite.10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1″
– hyperpyper10, 2010, comment in “Down on the Banks of the Hanky PankyM”, published by Erin Schmidt, Sep 14, 2006, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC8INeM0w5A
7. “Down by the river with the hanky panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
Singing E, I, O, U, your mama stinks and so do you
King Kong, Donkey Kong, went to school with nothing on
Asked the teacher what to wear, polka dotted underwear!
Not too big and not too small, just the size of Broward Mall
I pledge allegiance to the flag, Michael Jackson makes me gag
Pepsi cola burnt him up, now we’re drinking 7-up
7-up has no caffeine, now we’re singing Billy Jean
Billy Jean is out of sight, now we’re talking dynamite
Dynamite blew up the school, now we’re talking really cool
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Whoever was clapped on one was I guess out. Actually I remember that my first ever exposure to Michael Jackson was through these rhymes, I remember quite a few featured him. We also had a lot of songs about killing our teachers and burning down the school, you know, innocent schoolyard games!…
-Elle, October 3, 2009, https://kateharding.net/2009/10/02/miss-lucy-had-friday-fluff/
8. “i learned: down by the bay with the hanky panky where the bull frogs jump from bank to bank sayin eap op skiitle dittle kernal pop i pledge alligence to the flag micheal jackson makes me gag coke coala has caffine now we are talkin jelly beans”
-Chianne Wallace, 2010, [comment] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqhvCN0Uvfk
9. “I learned it as “Down by the river of hanky pank, a bulldog jumped from bank to bank. Said eese peese, inky bunny Bing bong. Momma smells like King Kong. Pledge Allegiance to the flag, Michael Jackson is my dad. Coca-Cola burn it up, now I’m talking 7-Up. 7-Up has no caffeine, now I’m talking Billy Jean. Billy Jean went out of style, Now I’m talking dynamite. Dynamite blew up the school, Now I’m talking really cool. 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1!
-Meghan Satterfield, 2014; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zoMAvwKGfk&feature=emb_logo
“Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky” Game at the Roslin Orphanage; published by Karina Vancsura, Aug 2, 2012
For some reason, the comment section of this children’s video is still open (as of November 9, 2019).
“I thought it was down by the bay by the hanky play where the bullfrog jumped from bay to bay I say east i`s o’s Isabella ding dong yo mama smell like king Kong all the way from long Wong pledge allegiance to the flag Michael Jackson makes me mad coca colla burn in up now I’m drinking 7up 7up has more cafeen now I’m drinking gasoline.gasoline is bad for you now I’m drinking mountain dew 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10 outt”
Joa Vega, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zoMAvwKGfk&feature=emb_logo
“Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky” Game at the Roslin Orphanage; published by Karina Vancsura, Aug 2, 2012
B. Examples of these rhymes that don’t include “Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky” verses
1. “Here’s a reader submission that the contributor first heard in 1984 in Placentia, CA. It would probably get kids in a lot more trouble now than it did back then.
I pledge allegiance to the flag,
Michael Jackson is a fag.
Pepsi Cola burnt him up,
now he’s drinking 7-UP.
The rhyme circulated a lot, and appeared in at least three scholarly works on children’s folklore in the mid-late 80s, and there’s a 1994 book about black identity in popular culture which identifies it as a jump rope rhyme. When I heard it (circa the spring of 1992 in Des Moines), there were two more lines:
7-UP made him pee,
now he’s drinking Pepsi Free.
The book that is mentioned in the comments for this example is Ceramic Uncles & Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture by Patricia A. Turner (Anchor Books, 1994, Page 94)
2. “I was reading along with my kids and laughing at ones I remember from when I was little… I particularly liked the one with Michael Jackson in it – it also asked if there were different versions we could share… I lived in Hawaii in 1984 when the “commercial accident” occurred and this was the version I learned: I pledge allegiance to the flag Michael Jackson makes me gag Pepsi-Cola burned him up And now he’s drinking 7-Up!”
-Rhonda; Cocojams, 6/28/2007
Thanks for visiting pancocojams.
Visitor comments are welcome.