Jumping Frog

LORELAI: We don’t patronize the next town.

RORY: Since when?

LORELAI: I don’t know, didn’t they feed lead to our jumping frog or something?

Lorelai references the 1865 short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain. The narrator of the story relates a tall tale he heard at a bar in Angel’s Camp, then a gold-mining town, in Calaveras County in northern California.

An inveterate gambler named Jim Smiley catches a frog and spends months training it to jump. He bets a stranger that his frog can out-jump any frog the stranger can find, but when the time comes, Smiley is dismayed to find his frog has been beaten. He pays up and the stranger departs, but Smiley later discovers that the stranger has poured lead shot down the frog’s throat, making it too sluggish to jump. He chases after the cheating stranger, but is unable to catch him.

First published in The New York Saturday Press as “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”, the story was an immediate success and made Twain’s name as a writer. Later that year it was published in The Californian under its current title. Twain used the story in his first book, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories, published in 1867.

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