Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Jinx – Or Pins Needles?

Jinx - Or Pins Needles?

When I was young-if 2 people said the same word or phrase at the same time-both people yelled Jinx! Whoever spit the word Jinx out first-also said “and you owe me a coke!” I never remember a coke being bought for actual payment of one person beating the other to the proclamation of JINX. But we said it anyway.

Sallie Covolo aka Granny Sal said when she was a girl growing up in western NC the customary saying for 2 people saying the same words at the same time was:

Pins needles
What comes down the chimney?
Hope this wish will never be broke
First one touches blue, wish will come true
First one touches white it will come true before night!

Sallie said the words were said as they linked pinky fingers.

Are you familiar with either Sallie’s memory or mine?



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  • Reply
    elithea whittaker
    February 21, 2020 at 9:17 am

    i just wrote jinx the other day when i had crossposted with someone, but i googled it first to make sure i remembered right!

  • Reply
    Larry Folk
    September 9, 2019 at 6:25 am

    We always said “jinx, you owe me a dime coke” in the Sandhills of Nebraska, there were a number of ‘scotch ‘ Irish descendants around, like my grandpa. He nicknamed many, my aunt Janet was Johnnie, cousin Linda, Soukie, my brother Gary, Buck Ingy, his sister-in-law Ethel , he called Slim

  • Reply
    September 18, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Totally recall my sister reciting the “pins and needles” rule when two people said jinx at the same time. Grew up in central Ohio. Also, according to sis, if you were jinxed you couldn’t talk until someone said your name, and if you were “pins and needled” your name needed to be said three times before being allowed to talk again. One could argue that this was my sister’s way of keeping me quiet, but I was a quiet kid growing up, so I have to imagine it was a legit rule to her group of friends.

    • Reply
      Penny L Gunter
      July 7, 2018 at 10:29 am

      I’ve seen the episode on The Andy Griffith Show, where Barney acts like a prisoner and Allan John Melvin a.k.a. “Sam the Butcher” from The Brady Bunch, say needles and pins when they both say the same thing!

      • Reply
        December 6, 2019 at 11:48 pm

        Yes, that’s what brought me here, The Andy Griffith Show!

        • Reply
          Robert Prince
          December 11, 2021 at 9:30 am

          Me too.. Had to look it up.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 28, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    I don’t remember the boys ever doing the Coke or the pinkie thing. I do remember cutting ourselves and putting the wounds together and letting our blood mix so we could be blood brothers. We had no AIDS or Ebola to fear back then. Nowdays I would have to have a hazmat suit before I would get near somebody’s else’s blood.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I recall saying “jinx” sometimes; but most times we just tried to be the first one to say the name of our favorite soft drink (that included Dr. Pepper which was already popular in Texas in the 50s) and start counting as fast as we could. Whenever the other person hollered “stop” – that told the number of soft drinks that person was to buy the counter. Don’t ever recall anyone ever paying up!
    The kids, grandkids, and I still do this.
    Pinky swears were always done at the end of a secret sharing session between two friends in order to seal the promise not to tell anyone else.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I remember this stuff going on when
    I was in elementary school, but
    didn’t pay much attention to it
    then. About all I could think of
    was where I’m going to Rabbit Hunt
    when I got off the School Bus…Ken

  • Reply
    Cyn Plahuta
    February 28, 2015 at 11:04 am

    In eastern Kentucky it’s not Coke, it’s Mountain Dew for us. Tho we say “Jinx! Rotten teeth!” Which, for us, is the same as saying Mountain Dew. 🙂 I’ve since switched to Diet MD, but it’s just not the same…..

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    February 28, 2015 at 10:52 am

    In East Texas we said “Jinx — you owe me a Coke.”
    And, of course, no one ever provided the Coke.
    Haven’t heard of the other one before.
    When I got older, I remember people saying, “Great minds think alike.” when we would say the same thing.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I’m not familiar with either one, but the hooking of pinkies was what I did as a child. Interesting custom! I’ll have to check with a friend who was born and raised in Caldwell County.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Tipper, you really have me digging back there into some thick cobwebs. It always seemed to be somebody else who got excited. When we said same word same time, they gave a swift reminder by quickly grabbing my pinky finger with theirs as we intertwined to make a wish. I was much more prone to be a firm believer in the coin in the fountain wish. I would toss a coin into a fountain, and then make that same wonderful wish that never came true. Now, I am so pleased it did not. There was never any cokes or jinx involved, but then I go back before cokes were quite the rage.

  • Reply
    Mark Selby
    February 28, 2015 at 9:11 am

    My Upper East Tennessee upbringing had us saying “Jinx”, with the result being that the one who did not say it first was not allowed to talk until the one who said “Jinx” said the other person’s name. Precious memories… Thanks.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 9:07 am

    That one never made it to the mountains of KY. Maybe it’s because we didn’t know what a Coke was – seriously! I remember my aunt used to buy a Pepsi as a treat for herself when she could afford it. It was a big 16 oz. bottle that looked like a gallon jug to a little girl. She always made cherry Kool-aid for the kids to drink while she enjoyed her Pepsi.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    February 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Vaguely remember the first, or some variation of it, but the second is completely unfamiliar.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 28, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I remember here in Florida we always quickly said jinx you owe me a coke the point was to say it before the other person did. Don’t remember ever getting or giving a coke either.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 28, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I remember here in Florida we always quickly said jinx you owe me a coke the point was to say it before the other person did. Don’t remember ever getting or giving a coke either.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 28, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I remember here in Florida we always quickly said jinx you owe me a coke the point was to say it before the other person did. Don’t remember ever getting or giving a coke either.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 28, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I remember here in Florida we always quickly said jinx you owe me a coke the point was to say it before the other person did. Don’t remember ever getting or giving a coke either.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 28, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Tipper–I reckon folks over Brasstown way were just far more sophisticated than those in Swain County. There, in my high school days, there was a somewhat crude custom called “Wood Up!” The rules were simple–whenever someone broke wind everyone within earshot was required to touch wood. Otherwise they were subject to be hit by those who had “wooded up.” For obvious reasons, given typical behavior for adolescent males (at least at the time), this was something pretty well limited to boys. Wise ones took to carrying a toothpick or popsicle stick in their pockets.
    It all came to an abrupt conclusion in my senior English class when a student who was seemingly in an unceasing state of flatulence broke wind in a way which would have shamed the fellow in Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale” (I reckon if such a great literary figure could discuss such earthy topics I can too). There was a mighty tapping of wooden desktops all over the class by males and equally mighty tittering by females.
    Mr. John Wikle dismissed the girls and the tirade he launched, once they were gone, was enough to tighten any sphincter to the point of being air-tight from that point on. It’s the only time I ever saw him mad.
    Yeah, I know, I’ve gone off down a rabbit trail, but resurrecting the memory was all your fault!
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I remember the Coke one but never heard the other.. Funny,, I don’t ever remember anybody getting a Coke either..

  • Reply
    Roger Fingar
    February 28, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Down here in the Florida swamps, I remember as kids we did the same JINX ritual for same simultaneous word(s) spoken – Except, we had to quickly count to ten between the word JINX!and “you owe me a coke”. Fads like that come and go I guess, but I’d like to hear theories on that one. For me (born 1955) it was going on through the early-mid 60’s but by the time the early 70’s and high school rolled around, I don’t remember it. Of course, a kids age and gender probably influences their “all in” participation in said fad. The JINX thing, when it presented itself, was something to be enthusiastically seized upon, as if you might really have the opportunity win a coke (nobody paid up here, either). My wife remembers no such fad, growing up in New York.

  • Reply
    Paul martin
    February 28, 2015 at 7:35 am

    In eastern nc. We always said Pepsi, I guess it depends on what neck of the you live!!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2015 at 7:13 am

    I know the one you do, Jinx!
    Not sure I’d remember all of the other one, but it’s cute.
    fyi–more snow in Oklahoma today. Don’t have to be anyplace but here, so I get to enjoy it.
    We’re to be up to 70 degrees by Tuesday, with thunderstorms. Yep, wait a few minutes and the weather will change!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 28, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I remember a “pinky” swear with a rhyme similar to Sallie’s. That was when something was sworn to secrecy by a clasping the little fingers together and saying the rhyme or not…Usually we just said, “promise” followed by “pinky swear”!
    If we were talking, playing, etc. and we said the same word at the same time…we didn’t always say “jinx” before giving a firm rap on the other ones shoulder with a pinch. Saying at the same time, “pinch and a poke you owe me a coke”…
    When I got older, all I remember was usually laughing and saying “you owe me a coke”!
    After I was grown and working, there was a I little younger but sweet, “smart aleck” girl that was always trying to get you to say the same word at the same time. I suppose it helped her pass the work day. She would do it just so she could reach out and give you a pinch on the arm! Then it got where anytime something was joked or laughed about she would reach out and pinch you…sometimes very hard.
    Kind of like a guy talking and always giving a slap on the back, whether you were the talker or not…”Saying what about that Joe!” or something to that effect!
    Great post Tipper,
    PS…Are you ready for the thunderstorms predicted for next week…”In like a Lion”, I reckon!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 28, 2015 at 4:43 am

    both of them — but I never got a Coke either darn it.

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