Benny (slang)

Benny (slang)

Benny is a derogatory term used by residents of the Jersey Shore to describe tourists from more northern cities, specifically New York City and its immediate suburbs. The term is predominantly used by locals from the towns of Ocean County and Monmouth County. It is widely used from Sandy Hook to Long Beach Island.

The term 'Shoobie' is used by residents of resort communities in the southern New Jersey Shore, from Long Beach Island to Cape May. The term shoobie was originally used to describe Philadelphia residents who took the train to the shore. The train offered pre-packed lunches that came in shoe boxes, hence the name 'shoobie'

In Maryland, the term is used as a pejorative slang term to describe anyone of apparent mental slowness, especially by children (derived from the character of the same name, played by Paul Henry in the soap opera "Crossroads"). In parts of England it is also used to describe a person in a fit of rage or having a tantrum as in "He's having a benny".

Other slang uses of "Benny" include a nickname for the drug "Benzedrine", as well as a term referring to an overcoat. [cite book
last = Burroughs
first = William
authorlink = William S. Burroughs
coauthors = Oliver Harris
title = Junky: The Definitive Text of Junk
publisher = Penguin (Non-Classics)
date = 50 Anv edition (April 1, 2003)
location = New York
pages = 129
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-14-20.0316-6
]

History

Locals say that the term stands for the names of the cities along the North Jersey Coast Line: Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York, although this may be a backronym. [Kirby, David. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D01E4D81430F932A25755C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all " HAVENS; Weekender | Bradley Beach, N.J."] , "The New York Times", June 11, 2004. Accessed May 12, 2008. "Someone whose primary residence is outside the township, for example, might still be referred to as a Benny, a term some say originated in the 1940's when waves of day trippers invaded Jersey Shore communities. Benny, according to one explanation, is an acronym for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York -- cities to the north that the out-of-town beachgoers might come from."] [ [http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/benny_bayonne_elizabeth_newark_new_york_acronym/ "Benny (Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York acronym?)"] , "The Big Apple", May 30, 2006. Accessed May 12, 2008.]

The term has no racial or religious connotations. The New Jersey chapter of the Anti-Defamation League has described the term Benny as "neutral shore slang." It is used overwhelmingly to describe tourists and their behaviors at the Jersey Shore.

One theory is that it arose from the health-spa fad, which began in the second half of the 19th century and continued up until World War One. This movement was popularized by Sylvester Graham, best remembered for the Graham Cracker, and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, of cereal fame. People traveled to the shore to enjoy the "beneficial airs" of the ocean - "bene-" becoming "benny" in the process. Those who work at food stands and convenience stores say the term refers to $100 bills, or Benjamins. Tourists often stop at banks before making their way to the shore, and tend to buy small items with large bills just for the sake of breaking it.

Popular usage

Shore dwellers often grumble about Bennys, or even mutter "Benny Go Home!" There are several songs describing stereotypical Benny behavior. "I'm A Benny" and "Benny Go Home" are written and performed by Mike Mullane. [http://www.myspace.com/mikemullane] The band 7minds describes a variety of Benny in the song "Seaside Tony". [http://www.7minds.com/]

Numerous individuals, groups, and organizations have arisen over the years to campaign against certain aspects of tourism on the Jersey Shore. The largest, and most well known, of these groups is Benny Go Home, commonly referred to as BGH. [http://www.bennygohome.com]

According to the group's website, the purpose of the movement is "to unite the population under one flag, dispel the misinformation, and call for respect and consideration for the people and culture of the Jersey Shore."

Accordingly, BGH defines a Benny as anyone who acts with "disrespect" towards the Jersey Shore or its people.

Shortly after the 1982 Falklands Conflict between Britain and Argentina British soldiers garrisoning the islands were ordered to stop referring to the islander community as "Bennies" (a reference to the fashion of Crossroads character Benny Hawkins). Shortly after this the soldiers began referring to the islanders as "Stills" to avoid the restriction (i.e. "Still Bennies").

A local radio station touts a "Bye Bye Bennies Weekend" each Labor Day.

References

ources

* [http://www.bennygohome.com/ Benny Go Home.com]
* [http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/benny_bayonne_elizabeth_newark_new_york_acronym/| Benny (Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York acronym?)]
* [http://www.myspace.com/mikemullane Click here to hear the song "I'm A Benny" by Mike Mullane and The Traveling Cunanans.]
* [http://nsjersey.blip.tv/file/353426/ NJ documentary - Benny segment]


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