The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Word Detective – Cackalacky

For some time now, I’ve been part of a loose group of seekers trying to find the origin of the word Cackalack or Cackalacky or Kackalack or some variation thereof.

Calalacky Hot Sause sticker

@radiomayonnaise alerts me that Word Detective is now on the case. Here. Dr. Connie Eble, Dr. Glenn Hinson, and in particular Bonnie Taylor-Blake offer good information but no final answer.

Bonnie pushes the documentation date back to Kathleen Kimball’s play “The Meat Rack” in 1972. It should be noted that although the line in the play refers to South Cackalacky and Charleston in particular, that Kimball was living in Asheville, NC when she wrote it.

One thing that Dr Eble and Bland Simpson and I were able to recall but not document is that during the mid-1960s both Bland, who was living in Coastal NC, and me, living in Charlotte, heard the term Cackalack used. Those who used the term in both cases were enlisted men — Marines from Jacksonville or Soldiers from Fayetteville — who were unhappy about being stuck down here in Cackalack.

I’ve seen no written evidence of this usage, but would love to hear/see anything anyone finds.


  1. Bonnie Taylor-Blake

    9/26/2010 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks for adding this note about “Cackalacky,” Paul. Your interest over the years in determining the genesis of this term has been very helpful.

    I’ve been wondering about Bland Simpson’s and your (separate) experiences with “Cackalack” in the ’60s. Do you recall whether it was used by both black and white servicemen or by one group more than the other? Your recollection suggests that those who used the term were not natives of the Carolinas. Were you able to determine where they were from? From up north, perhaps?

  2. Paul

    9/26/2010 at 9:52 pm

    As I recall, this is 40 years back or more, the guys were not from NC nor from the South. In the cases that I recall they were white, but that said there was a lot of slang being borrowed across racial and regional lines. This was the Viet Nam era and most soldiers were under 21 and trying on entirely new identities as warriors. I can say for sure that the term Cackalack or Cackalacky was not one of endearment. We’re talking about the period from say 1966 – the early 1970s.

    Learning about the Kimball play helps fill in a little and reaffirms, to me at least, that I wasn’t just making this up.

Leave a Reply

© 2020 The Real Paul Jones

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑