The secret of Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream

Interesting discoveries about 1937 film “A Day at the Races”

Tootsie Fruitsie Ice Cream

I became suspicious of this film when I saw the sketch called “Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream”. The bait and switch technique of the horse race tip salesman reminded me of Obamacare because of all the books the mark had to buy to decipher the code that contained the horse race tip.

Sparkling Spring sign less Lake

So what in 1937 could this be about, if it were veiled political commentary? I immediately looked up *S*ocial *S*ecurity in the wiki and soon noticed that 1937 was the first year that SS collected the payroll tax. I then noticed that the film is about obtaining the financing of a retirement retreat for rich folks called “*S*tandish *S*anitarium”. You see this is a sanitarium with bell hops! It’s most imporant patient/customer, Mrs. Upjohn is a lonely rich widow with hypochondria.

Bell Hops at Standish Sanitorium

At first the goal of the main charactors in the film is to obtain the money from Mrs. Upjohn, but that plan goes awry so the plan changes to winning it at the race track, *S*parkling *S*prings race track that is.

Just before the Tootsie Frootsie sketch, is a sketch where the Sheriff a demands payment from one of the characters. Ultimately, the Sheriff receives the same five dollar bill three times, but imagines that he is receiving fifteen dollars. This suggests that the authors may have been concerned that social security was too much like a Ponzi scheme.

During the sheriff sketch, Harpo steals the *S*heriff’s *s*ock. This could be a suggestion that the government won’t be able to hold on the the SS money which people might otherwise have socked away!

Harpo steals the sherrifs sock

That is about all from the film that I noticed. I could easily have missed other things. I had a hard time making out a lot of the lyrics for instance. A number of instrumental tunes are played which might have suggestive titles, but I would not know them.

One of the writers, Robert Pirosh, adapted an Ayn Rand play for the screen so it’s certainly plausible that he would have been skeptical of Social Security.

Both the film, A Day at the Races and the Tootsie Frootsie clip can be found on YouTube [These two links are blocked now].

Playlist of above starting with Sheriff sketch:

Detailed film synopis 3 pages

2 thoughts on “The secret of Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream

  1. You’re reading WAY to much into this. That is not how the Marx Brothers designed and/or named their people, places and things in their skits and gags. Mostly, they adapted names and places from their travelling days in Vaudeville and just adapted the. Sparkling Springs is a thinly disguised change from “Saratoga Springs” complete with sanitarium and race track. There’s nothing at all “suspicious” about it at all. In Duck Soup, the country of Freedonia, was actually stolen from a town in upstate NY called Fredonia, where the Marx Brothers performed many times on their many summer vaudeville treks.

    • Sorry it to me so long to notice this.

      This is an interesting point, but does not prove anything. It would be more useful to know how much originality there was in the sketches mentioned. There’s probably no one alive who had seen enough Marx Brothers in Vaudeville to say how the sketch was or was not changed to fit the social security theory.

      Wiki says they honed the material during a Vaudeville tour, so it must have been somewhat original.

      In the film, a person invests his life savings in a horse. The SS issue is about what we do with our life savings. In the end it works out, but only with great difficulty.

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