Sexual Innuendo

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sexual innuendo has coupled sweetness with love and sexuality since ancient times. In the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon, the female speaker equates her lover with sweet apples: As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. (2:3)

In his fourth-century work The Fall of Troy, Quintus Smyrnaeus alludes to “love’s deep sweet well-springs.” In the late thirteenth century “sweetheart” arose in English as a term of endearment, followed shortly after by “sweeting.” In the late sixteenth century “sweetikins” appeared: “She is such a honey sweetikins,” wrote Thomas Nashe in a pamphlet from 1596. “Sweetling” and “sweetie” appeared in the mid-seventeenth century, while “sweetie-pie,” “sugar pie,” and “sugar” emerged as terms of endearment around 1930. In 1969 The Archies released their hit song “Sugar, Sugar,” in which a “candy girl” is advised to “pour a little sugar” onto her boyfriend.