Somebody used the word hoopla at dinner the other night (I don’t remember why) and I started wondering where in the world that word came from. I thought maybe the la part came from the French for ‘there’ as in voila. That’s as far as I got before I went off to the dictionary.
Hoopla was first used to mean hullabaloo (another great word) about 1875. It was a carnival term used by the people who ran the games where you toss hoops onto wooden stakes: the game itself was called hoop-la. The carnies shouted out ‘hoopla’ when someone was winning, apparently. I guess it meant: Oh look, the hoops are flying! Soon you will win a cheapo prize.
Hoop-La was also a 1933 Clara Bow movie, her last one. In it, she plays a dancer at a carnival and there is romance and so on. Clara absolutely was the queen of hoopla on and off the screen, although her official moniker was the It Girl. We’ll have to talk about which It she was the Girl of another time, though. Maybe I’ll do my first retro celebrity post on her.