I’m guessing most of us have done it.
Ran up to a neighbor’s house, either knocked on the door or rang the bell, and then ran away before anyone answered the door.
In the U.S. it’s known as ding-dong ditch, and it’s probably one of the first pranks kids learned while growing up.
It’s a fairly innocent gag, and most people take it for what it is, a bunch of kids being stupid and having fun. (I know there have been instances of kids being threatened by guns, and even one case of some teens being killed as a result of such a prank, but fortunately, such incidents are few and far between).
But nowadays, I wonder if the fun is taken out of it because so many people have doorbell cameras that will either (a) discourage kids from ding-dong ditching a house that they know has a camera or (b) if the kids aren’t aware of such a camera in place, they are caught red-handed. Being caught on film probably leads to some form of reprimand from the kids’ parents, but it’s hard to be too tough on your kid when you were guilty of doing the same thing at their age.
So it was nice to read a couple of stories that during the pandemic, ding-dong ditching was actually making somewhat of a comeback.
A WSJ story from back in May noted that covid-19 was fueling a comeback of the game across the U.S., giving grown-ups a much-needed dose of nostalgia and mischief. The latest version includes leaving a treat before running away, lending a kinder twist on the prank.
One of the popular treats to leave was the snack, Ding Dongs. Hostess Brands Inc. says in the four weeks ended April 18 sales of Ding Dongs have outpaced the company’s overall sales growth rate. “We’ve been seeing retail sales velocities of Ding Dongs that are several, several multiples above Hostess’s snacking averages,” says Chad Lusk, the company’s chief marketing officer. “It is showing up in our purchase data that people are utilizing Ding Dongs as a way to reimagine this version of an old childhood game.”
Another person used the prank as a way to boos flower sales. Flower-delivery sales have increased 75% since Maya Boettcher, 41, promised on March 16 on her shop’s Instagram page that all deliveries would be made ding-dong-ditch style. (Before the pandemic, most of her business was wedding arrangements.) After placing an order, customers frequently call to confirm she will stick to her delivery-method promise, says Ms. Boettcher, owner of Wildflower boutique in Des Moines.
Since I am a fan of pranks, I love seeing this renewed use of ding-dong ditching. And while I was reading about this, I learned that such a prank is not exclusive to just the U.S., and that it goes by different names around the world. In fact, it seems to date back to 19th century England.
Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia with some of those names:
- Knock Out Ginger (South Wales)
- Knock a door run (away) (northern England)
- Ding dong ditch, Nicky nicky nine doors (United States, Canada)
- Chicky melly chap-door-run, chappy (Scotland)
- Knock and run
- Knick knack (Ireland)
- Cherry knocking (United Kingdom, late 20th century)
- Ring and run (United States)
- Belletje trekken (Netherlands), belleke trek (Flanders)
- Knock and nash (Cumbria, United Kingdom)
- Knick Knocking (Australia)
- Tok-tokkie (South Africa)
- Sonne-Décriss (Québec)
- Rín-Rín-Raja (Chile)
- Bell-Twei (Bell means ‘Ding’ and Twei means ‘run’ in Korean) (South Korea)
And there was even an old poem:
Ginger, Ginger broke a winder
Hit the winda – crack!
The baker came out to give ‘im a clout
And landed on his back.
Hopefully, Ginger and the baker have learned to tone it down since then…
*image from Digital Camera World