Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 04:31:10 EST
From: Bapopik Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Before you throw this stupid little thing out (the connection of New
Year's and "zoo" is purely serendipitous), here are two items. The DICTIONARY
OF AMERICANISMS has 31 October 1884 and states "origin obscure."
This is from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 26 September 1884, pg. 2, col. 3:
A Republican editor in announcing the invention of a new musical
instrument says it is called the "zazoo" because "it sounds like a
zazoological garden when all the animals are howling." If this comparison is
just we suppose the sessions of Mr. Clapp's assessment committee would remind
the editor of somebody playing on the zazoo.
This is from the Chicago Express, 4 September 1886, pg. 5, col. 6:
Smith, the "Kazoo" Inventor.
There is an enviable example of prosperity up in Union square. His name
is Smith, and he is getting rich rapidly out of a big restaurant called the
"Dairy Kitchen." It is conducted on the temperance plan, and a band of
skillful musicians discourses good light music during the afternoon and
evening. The place caught the tide of favor from the start. Smith made his
money to establish the business in a curious way. He is an inventive genius,
with a fondness for music. The latter element should have prevented his
creating the masterpiece of his life, but it did not.
Invention triumphed, and the result was the "kazoo," a musical
monstrosity that sounds somewhat like the song of a petulant tom cat. Smith
looked after its introduction to the world personally, and as he is expert in
advertising resources, he suceeded almost beyond belief. He took his horror
to Baltimore, and within a week the town was wild. The street boys were
blowing kazoos; of course, that would be expected; but the hotel clerks, the
dry goods clerks, the young men about town, and even the banjo-loving girls,
took the craze, and the sound of kazoos rent the air. They organized kazoo
bands, had kazoo excursions and kazoo dinner parties. It came near getting
into politics, and might have if Smith had stayed another week, He made
$11,000 clear within a year, and then settled down to be a caterer. Perhaps
his conscience smote him, and perhaps the craze ran out. If the latter, the
inventor wisely stood from under and escaped with his profits.--"Uncle Bill's"
New York Letter.
Kazoo web sites--none of which gives the etymology nor identifies