“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas” was a proverb of Don Meredith (1938-2010), an SMU and Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Monday Night Football announcer. The proverb (in other forms) is older, but Meredith helped popularize it with his version. During the Monday Night Football game between the visiting Baltimore Colts and the Green Bay Packers on November 9, 1970, Meredith first made the remark to fellow MNF broadcaster Howard Cosell.
“If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no work for tinkers’ hands” is a saying from the early 19th century.
[This entry was prepared with research assistance by the Quote Investigator.]
Wikipedia: Don Meredith
Joseph Don “Dandy Don” Meredith (April 10, 1938–December 5, 2010) was an American football quarterback, sports commentator and actor. He spent all nine seasons of his professional playing career (1960–1968) with the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his last three years as a player. He subsequently became a color analyst for NFL telecasts from 1970–1984. As an original member of the Monday Night Football broadcast team on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), he famously played the role of Howard Cosell’s comic foil.
11 November 1970, Gastonia (NC) Gazette, “Frady’s Views” by Dwight Frady, pg. 2B, col 1:
I liked it Monday when he used the word “if,” which you can always fall upon discussing something which has just happened in sports or when you’re second-guessing. Dandy said: “If ‘if’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, what a Merry Christmas we would have.”
17 November 1970, Journal Gazette (Mattoon, IL), “Odds and Ends,” pg. 4, col. 1:
With TV sportcaster Howard Cosell carrying on in his usual ignominious manner, Don Meredith, broadcasting with him seemed to have about all of Howard’s ifs, ands, buts and usual palaver he could take while working the recent Green Bay-Baltimore Colt NFL game. Finally Meredith came out with, “Yes, Howard, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a Merry Christmas we’d have…” How true it is!
17 December 1970, Ada (OK) Evening News, pg. 7, col. 1:
Howard: “If Los Angeles wins, it’s a big one, but San Francisco is still very much in it.”
Dan: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.”
Howard: “I didn’t think you’d remember that old canard.”
Dan: “Is that what it was?”
18 December 1970, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Just Waiting For That Day” by Sam Blair, pg. B1, col. 1:
However, as Don Meredith told Howard Cosell on the tube last Monday night, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”
18 March 1971, Chicago (IL) Tribune, pg. C3:
IF IFS AND NUTS were candy and nuts, someone said, Wisconsin would be the N.
C. A. A. track champion.
2 April 1971, Chicago (IL) Tribune, pg. C3:
“There’s an old saying, Ernie. It goes something like this: ‘If all the ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a wonderful Christmas it would be.’”
26 November 1972, Washington (DC) Post, pg. C6:
On-the-air and at public meetings, Meredith is the bucolic, puppy-friendly, old-shoe, ex-athlete. He has made a running gag, lasting for three seasons, about his inability to explain pass interference. He is filled with country boy wisdom:
“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts,
We’d all have a Merry Christmas.”
10 March 1974, Washington (DC) Post, pg. C10:
“If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas,” Meredith said, repeating an on-the-air favorite.
The Office: Dwight - If onlys and justs
Uploaded on Mar 25, 2011
If onlys and justs were candies and nuts. Then every day would be Ernte Dank Fest.
Published on Jan 24, 2013
If “Ifs” and “Buts” were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas.
IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)
The Big Bang Theory (TV Series)
The Apology Insufficiency (2010)
Sheldon Cooper: If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a Merry Christmas.
A Way with Words
Ifs and Buts and Candied Nuts
Posted by Grant Barrett on July 17, 2017
A middle school teacher in Flower Mound, Texas, responds to students’ protests and excuses with if all our buts were candied nuts, we’d all be fat for Christmas. It’s probably a variation of a phrase popularized by former Dallas Cowboys star turned sports commentator Dandy Don Meredith, who often observed, “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, wouldn’t it be a merry Christmas?” The practice of using ifs and buts as nouns goes back at least 900 years.