On this day in 1839 we first saw the word we use so often to describe our most middling feelings. That’s right, it’s the birthday of OK. Plus: it’s also the anniversary of the time an astronaut smuggled a corned beef sandwich aboard a space mission.
A Contraband Corned Beef Sandwich Went to Space 50 Years Ago (Popular Mechanics)
If you’ve ever wanted to give us three out of five stars, well this would be the right episode for it.
It was on this day in 1839 we first saw the word we use so often to describe those middling feelings of ours.
That’s right, it’s the birthday of OK.
The word first showed up in a Boston Morning Post, as an abbreviation for the phrase “all correct.”
Wondering why they didn’t use the letters “A.C.”? Yeah, me too.
There was a fad back then of intentionally misspelling abbreviations, well over a century before people started doing that in their text messages.
That would have been it for “O.K.”, except that a year later, President Martin Van Buren’s reelection campaign used the letters as a way to describe their candidate.
He was from Kinderhook, New York, so they said that Van Buren, aka “Old Kinderhook,” was “O.K.”
It didn’t help; Van Buren lost the election.
But it did keep the letters in the public eye.
Telegraph operators would tap it out to acknowledge receiving message, since the two letters were pretty easy to use in Morse Code.
And it’s easy to add “OK” to a document you need to approve or to at least show that you’ve seen.
Now it’s everywhere.
We click OK buttons on our devices, we tell upset kids that everything’s going to be OK, and there’s even a book about it, called “OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word.”
Today is also a big day in the history of space travel, or in particular the food that comes with it.
On this day in 1965, astronaut John Young smuggled onto the Gemini 3 mission a corned beef sandwich, the first time a takeout deli order had gone off-planet.
Unfortunately the contraband ended up filling the space capsule with crumbs of rye bread. As Young put it later, “It was a thought, anyway.”