Why does my wife drive me bananas and not apples?
The origin of the term “drive me bananas” is unknown – but our favourite theory is that it comes from students trying to make hallucinogenic drugs from banana skins in the 1960s.
First of all, we’re sure your wife is perfectly lovely. Maybe you drive her bananas.
Anyway, let’s assume your question is really about the origin of the expression “drive me bananas” – which is something of a mystery.
In 2007 the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) appealed for evidence on the origin of the phrase, asking the public: “Did you go bananas before 1968?”
At the time the OED’s earliest record of bananas being used to mean “crazy, mad, wild” came from college students in Kentucky in 1968-70 (possibly roasting bananas peels in the mistaken belief that they had psychedelic properties).
The online OED has since been updated with two earlier references – the first being a quote from a 1935 book about crime: “He’s bananas, he’s sexually perverted; a degenerate.”
But that doesn’t tell us why bananas is used to mean crazy.
So in the absence of any hard evidence, here are some theories:
- Monkeys go crazy – or “bananas” – for bananas, just like they go nuts for nuts
- Indonesian natives acted wild after getting drunk on a fermented banana drink called “tonto”
- The term “banana oil” has been used to mean nonsense – so maybe this is why “going bananas” means acting crazy (trouble is, no one knows the origin of this phrase either)
And now here’s a song – oddly from 1968 (but not mentioned by the OED) – called Loving You Has Made Me Bananas.