hokey-pokey (n.)

1847, "false cheap material," perhaps an alteration of hocus-pocus, or from the nonsense chorus and title of a comic song (Hokey Pokey Whankey Fong) that was popular c. 1830. Applied especially to cheap ice cream sold by street vendors (1884). In Philadelphia, and perhaps other places, it meant shaved ice with artificial flavoring. The words also were the title of a Weber-Fields musical revue from 1912. The modern dance song of that name hit the U.S. in 1950 ("Life" described it Nov. 27, 1950, as "a tuneless stomp that is now sweeping the U.C.L.A. campus"). But a dance of that name, to a similar refrain, is mentioned in a 1943 magazine article (wherein the "correct" title is said to be Cokey Cokey), and the dance is sometimes said to have originated in Britain in World War II, perhaps from a Canadian source.

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