R.I.P. Dancing Banana


Last week, some over-zealous deletionist Wikipedia editors permanently removed the Peanut-Butter-Jelly-Time Dancing Banana entry, thus downgrading the implied cultural significance of this meme.   

You may be thinking:  (A) What is a dancing banana, and (B) Why would I care about its inclusion/exclusion in a open-source encyclopedia?  Answers:  (A) Look it up on Wikipedia… oh wait, never mind… and (B) You don’t have to, but maybe you should anyway. 

It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Yes, the whole thing is ridiculous.  We’re not talking about an animated, highly-pixelated image of a banana, moving around to the tune of Peanut Butter Jelly Time by the Buckwheat Boys.   No.  We’re talking about the merits of including an article about said Dancing Banana, on Wikipedia.

Yes, truly ridiculous, indeed. However, this severing-nay-SLICING of the Dancing Banana from Wikipedia cuts to the core of what Wikipedia — and having a repository of popular cultural knowledge — is all about.  

Plus, if you’ve ever spent any amount of time or energy arguing about other mundane matters, you’re just as guilty as any of those Wikipedia editors, in terms of your willingness to obsess over trivia. Admit it… the world won’t care whether or not you sort through the comparative merits of your city’s rival sports team, whether a tomato is a fruit, the achievements of your favorite athlete/celebrity, or any number of political scandals that you may have an opinion about. In comparison to those things, this Dancing Banana debate is actually meaningful.

Peanut Butter Jelly with a Baseball Bat

Regarding the Banana Inclusion Controversy (B.I.C.?): lil_Dancing_Banana Apparently this is third time this matter has come up for vote on Wikipedia.  The third time!   The first attempt and the second attempt to delete the darn thing both failed.  Now, with this third attempt… peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat, three strikes, you’re OUT.

Some people have argued that debates over Wikipedia article deletion are a supreme waste of human talent and effort. (Citation needed… I saw it somewhere…I swear!)   Of course, what those people fail to understand — or perhaps they PRETEND to fail to understand — is the cosmic nature of this Dancing Banana Debate. 

Or something. 

Inclusionists versus Deletionists

Delving into the politics of which articles stay on Wikipedia and which get banished is one of the best ways to fully understand Wikipedia, and the notion of a democratized, collective database of human knowledge. It all boils down to the issue of Inclusionism versus Deletionism — roughly speaking,  Quantity versus Quality.  To understand this topic better, of course, you should read the Wikipedia article about it:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deletionism_and_inclusionism_in_Wikipedia

I’m not an active Wikipedia editor — though I once tried doing some editing on Wikipedia  years ago and recommend it highly for schoolchildren (Intro to Social Media 101?) or anyone really interested in a specific  topic. The best way to learn a topic is to try to write about it — and deal with other psychotic Wikipedia editors nipping at your every edit. Fascinating stuff.  In my brief foray into this realm of the nerdosphere, I’ve found that the amount of energy that can go into these Wikipedia meta-debates is astounding — rivaled only by the media’s coverage of Presidents drinking beer with cops and professors.

On Wikipedia, the psychology behind the obsessive nature of an article-deletion debate (or even a simple edit war) will vary by debate — and by person. The behavior — a kind of pathological fixation on a given topic — may come from a vested interest in a particular issue. lil_Dancing_Banana Or maybe there’s no stake in the topic itself, but the emotional energy is a kind of sublimation of other, personal issues onto what are otherwise random topics. (Citation Needed!)   Or perhaps a given topic has symbolic importance to the activist Wikipedian… but you know, sometimes a dancing banana is just a dancing banana. (WT..??)   The vociferousness of Wikipedia meta-debates could even just be a matter of clashing egos, intellectual bullying, or plain old trolling. (Citation Needed!) Or perhaps it’s simply a form of misplaced aggression due to being the world’s biggest weenie geek (Citation Needed!) (Citation Needed!).  But that’s enough armchair psychology. (No Original Research Please!)  Whatever it is, Wikipedia seems to offer sufficient psychic rewards for this compulsive behavior.

The end result?  Waaaaaaay too much time being spent on deciding whether a list of everything Bart Simpson wrote on a chalkboard during the opening credits of The Simpsons qualifies as a “notable” topic… or meaningless fancruft.  “Yessss Smithers… they’ve wasted their time compiling this list.  Let’s delete this article forever so they’ll think twice next time before wasting their precious collective contributions…”   

When All Else Fails…

Enter the Article Rescue Squadron — a group of Wikipedians, some of whom have Inclusionist tendencies, who believe that many articles are worth saving from deletion… the articles just need a little more love and attention to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.

Failing that, there is always Deletionpedia — a partially automated site which scoops up some of the stuff that gets deleted from Wikipedia.  Lots of good quality “original research” there. And now, that’s where the Dancing Banana story, will continue to live — if you can call that living.lil_Dancing_Banana  It’s more like a state of suspended animation– stuck in its most recent revision from Wikipedia, with no prospect of gaining new edits, updates or insights from would-be Dancing Banana experts. The Dancing Banana article is now frozen, a mere pop-culture popsicle.


Pro-Banana Choice

Call me an Inclusionist, call me an armchair Wikipedia editor (but please, not an actual editor),  but I firmly believe that this cavorting plantain should have *stayed* in Wikipedia.  And I’m willing to comment, blog and flame about it, dammit (but not become a Wikipedia editor… no way… not with all those Deletionists running things)   For one thing, it’s a *great* meme — in the scheme of Internet memes, the Dancing Banana is somewhere below the smiley emoticon  🙂  … but above “All Your Base Are Belong To Us.”  The banana lives on in many forms.  The banana cake is NOT a lie

Call me a banana-loving simpleton, call me an open-source-encyclopedia-amateur , but I actually found it *useful* to have  an easily-accessible article about this Dancing Banana. Seriously. With the best available popular consensus view of its origins and  history, along with links to the best versions of the video, that Wikipedia article was the first place I went when I wanted to look the PBJT dude up… which was more often that I’d care to admit. Now I’ll have to sift around through Google’s haphazard results.

Finally, Deletionpedia and all those would-be menageries of memes just don’t cut it for me.  For one thing, they don’t rank high enough on Google’s search results, for easy one-click reference. More importantly though, they don’t attract the legions of contributors who will give this topic ongoing the attention it deserves.

Deserving of Attention

lil_Dancing_BananaWikipedians argue about articles through a process of interpreting and applying a set of principles and codes, just like lawyers working within the system of French Civil Law.  The more English Civil Law-influenced legal process of using precedent as a way to make judgement has less value in the chaotic environmnet of an open-source encyclopedia. 

Yet, precedent is instructive.  Several years ago, Wikipedia celebrated its millionth article with an in-depth study of a minor Scottish train station, Jordanhill.

As the Big Boss Jimbo of Wikipedia said, We are thrilled that our millionth article in English is about the Jordanhill railway station. This is not something which would appear in a traditional encyclopedia, and it shows how Wikipedia reflects the needs and interests of people everywhere, and not just the dictates of what academics and cultural mavens claim is worthy of an encyclopedia.”     Take that, Banana-haters.

But don’t just take my word or Jimbo’s word  for it. As one Banana-defender with the name “Elustran” noted, 

 This (Dancing Banana) page is linked to by other pages and is an important enough internet meme to stand out on its own, owing to its chained replication through multiple sources, for instance: the Dancing Banana lead to the Dancing Banana in Family Guy, and the Dancing Banana in the Warcraft Dance, eventually leading to Sophat Peou imitating the song nationally on American Idol. This meme has obviously had a noteworthy and insidious influence on culture and is not a phenomenon relegated strictly to the internet. This particular meme’s methods of propagation, and level of influence could form important pieces of evidence in a paper or discussion on the overall subject of memetics. It is as encyclopedic as many other major icons and I see the attempted deletion of this article as a sign of recent overzealous attempts to redact pertinent information on Wikipedia due to personal biases on what should be included in Wikipedia. Not to make a Straw Man argument, and I apologize if I’m wrong, but it is my suspicion that an underlying cause for nominating this article for deletion is an elitist distaste for pop-culture without the consideration that almost all culture was once ‘pop-culture.’ Outright deleting articles like this undermines Wikipedia’s credibility as a collaborative project; eliminating articles of interest to the readers of a reader-edited encyclopedia makes those readers afraid to edit.

..or as another Pro-Bananaer put it,

(you) weird online bureaucrats. you guys take yourself to seriously. no child should go without knowing the reason Peter Griffin dressed up like a giant banana and started dancing or something like that.


Oh well.  I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with my own archived copy of it:

Teh Dancing Banana

(deleted from Wikipedia 8/14/2009 due to lack of noteworthiness)

The Dancing Banana (also known as Peanut Butter Jelly, or Humba the Banana[citation needed]) is a popular emoticon originally created by Trym Stene (Tierra), just as a fun animated .gif avatar for a Norwegian discussion forum Norsk FreakForum where it was used as an emoticon for the first time. By late 2001, the banana was already being used on several forums as a standard emoticon. Most of these forums would replace the typed text “:banana:” with the graphical image. As the popularity of the banana grew, hundreds of variations of the image had been created for forums or other purposes. These new images typically would have to be either uploaded or linked to, instead of replacing text. There is also a dancing pickle, muffin, carrot, apple, onion, taco, broccoli, Sonic the Hedgehog, Yoshi, Mario, Luigi, Mega Man, Link, and Coach Z, among many others. The dancing banana emoticon is very famous amongst users of Amiga computer and there has been realized also an Amiga Boingball Logo dancing version of the banana emoticon. The Dancing Banana soon made its way to television shows and began to appear as an icon in pop culture.


    1 Peanut Butter Jelly Time
    2 Appearances in popular culture
    3 Notes
    4 External links

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

“Peanut Butter Jelly Time” was a Flash animation created by Ryan Gancenia Etrata and Kevin Flynn posted onto the Offtopic.com forums in early 2002. On March 21, 2002, a user by the name YrebWarts posted Etrata and Flynn’s work on Newgrounds.com where the clip became wildly popular spawning a number of remakes, and became an Internet phenomenon.[1][2] Based upon a song of the same name recorded by DJ Chipman of the Buckwheat Boyz, the best known version of the animation (usually distributed as a Flash clip) shows a highly pixelated animated Dancing Banana moving back and forth to the song’s repetitive chorus. In some versions of the animation, the song’s lyrics are displayed on screen. The line “peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat” is copied from The Ramones “Beat on the Brat” (with a baseball bat); although, in the Peanut butter jelly instance, it doesn’t rhyme (or make sense).”

Appearances in popular culture

  • In the Family Guy episode “The Courtship of Stewie’s Father“, Brian attempts to cheer Peter up by performing “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” dressed as the Dancing Banana.
  • The University of Georgia Diamond Dawgs use the Family Guy clip of “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” during late-game pitching changes.
  • In the Ed episode “The Wedding“, Jennifer Bradley shows Ed the “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” animation to try to cheer him up.
  • TNA Wrestling’s Alex Shelley is occasionally represented by crowd chants or crowd signs that read “Peanut Butter Shelley Time” as a play on both his name and the meme.
  • In one episode of The Proud Family, Penny babysits Dijonay’s brothers and sisters. The kids put in a CD and start dancing to “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”.
  • Hot Topic sells shirts of the banana with the phrase “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time”.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy video game, an unlockable costume for Irwin is a banana suit. Whenever Irwin does his “Mojo Meltdown” in the banana suit, he assumes a pose mimicking the Dancing Banana’s dance.
  • On the January 31, 2007 episode of American Idol, contestant Sophat Peou sang the song while wearing a banana suit and doing the dance. He was disqualified less than 10 seconds later.
  • On Nickelodeon, Peanut Butter Jelly Time was used as a short piece of their commercial to encourage children to eat breakfast.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays feature the theme song and a dancing banana
  • The Banana and phrase “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time” appears in Weezer‘s music video “Pork and Beans“.
  • The song is a running gag on TNT’s Inside the NBA, with a video of Charles Barkley‘s head superimposed over a shirtless overweight man dancing.
  • During WWE’s Cyber Sunday pay-per-view event, WWE Diva Victoria dressed up as the character. She also dressed as a banana on the Halloween Special of Smackdown!.
  • The dance motion of the Dancing Banana is used in the popular PC game World of Warcraft as one of the few dancing moves a male tauren can do.
  • The dance motion is also included in the online fighting game Rumble Fighter and is activated by typing /pbj.
  • Randy Moller, radio play-by-play commentator for the NHL’s Florida Panthers, frequently uses the phrase “Peanut Butter Jelly Time!” to celebrate a Panthers’ goal.
  • “Peanut Butter Burrows Time!” is a common saying among fans of the Vancouver Canucks while anticipating a goal by Alexandre Burrows.
  • The Dancing Banana has been created as a character for the fighting game engine, MUGEN.
  • The theme song for newly animated show Watchmen is the song that The Dancing Banana dances too.


  1. ^ http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/peanut-butter-jelly-time knowyourmeme.com
  2. ^ Peer-to-Peer Networking For Podcasts and People“. The Washington Post. 2006-05-14. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/13/AR2006051300186_pf.html. Retrieved on 2008-11-17. 

External links


About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on August 17, 2009, in Diversions, Information Design, Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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