My Boyfriend Gave Me an Apple

Updated this post with some new info:

I didn’t know this one, but it seems to have been fairly popular in the US, the UK and Australia over the last thirty or forty years, at least:

My boyfriend gave me an apple
my boyfriend gave me a pear
my boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips
and threw me down the stairs

I gave him back his apple
I gave him back his pear
I gave him back his kiss on the lips
and threw HIM down the stairs

There are several third verses, mostly involving going to the movies (since all this stair-throwing didn’t end the relationship):

He took me to the movies
to buy some bubble gum
and when he wasn’t looking
I stuck it up his bum

Then there are (almost inevitably) underwear variations:

I threw him over London
I threw him over France
I threw him over Harbour bride
he lost his underpants

(This is often followed by a verse where he flies all over London, France, and Harbour Bridge (or the USA or any number of other “third” places) to find his underpants.

Folks, this is one messed-up relationship. Some folklorists say this is about girl empowerment, but I’m not really buying it. This is a couple that throws each other down the stairs then goes to the movies to engage in all kinds of deviant acts – it’s either a real BDSM power couple or a seriously dysfunctional couple with no one I can really sympathize with (something tells me that that initial stair-throwing wasn’t the first act of violence in the relationship).

But all analysis aside, how old is this? It’s been appearing in print since the 1980s, but almost certainly goes back further than that – a variation was published in Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang in 1921:

First I gave her peaches
then I gave her pears
then I gave her fifty cents
and kissed her on the stairs

This sort of suggests that it may have come from ribald rhymes about prostitutes – by the 1970s or 80s, though, violent rhymes were probably less likely to get you in trouble than sex rhymes (at least in the states, where violent media tends to be much more likely to be considered “family friendly” than sexual media).

By way of trying to put in a centuries-old tradition, maybe we can also connect it to a couple of old, old folk songs:

The first of these is “I gave my love a cherry, it had no stone.” “My boyfriend gave me an apple” sort of follows the pattern of that one (and is considerably less boring).

But a more obvious, and far more likely, thing would be to connect it to the old Irish standard “Do You Love An Apple”

Do you love an apple?
Do you love a pear?
Do you love a laddie
with curly brown hair?
Yes, I love him
and can’t deny him
I will follow
wherever he goes

This is essentially the same song without the violence – the playground version sort of follows the song to a natural conclusion of what might happen if you promise to follow a laddie wherever he goes (ie, he could turn out to be a real jerk).

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35 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    i man man man man man

    Reply
  2. Courteny

    I remember this! We did it as one of those hand clapping rhymes, and it was a little different. It was the second hand rhyme I learned. I grew up in Indianapolis and it was around 1983. I was four years old.

    My boyfriend gave me an apple,
    My boyfriend gave me a pear,
    My boyfriend gave me 50 cents
    And took me to the fair, fair, fair.
    After the fair was over,
    I asked him to take me home,
    He said he had another date,
    And left me all alone, lone, lone.
    I gave him back his apple,
    I gave him back his pear,
    I gave him back his 50 cents
    And tore his underwear, wear, wear.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    this is the one that i've heard:

    My boyfriend gave me an apple,
    My boyfriend gave me a pear,
    My boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips and threw me down the stairs

    I gave him back his apple
    I gave him back his pear
    I gave him back his kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs

    I threw him over London
    I threw him over France
    I threw him over Disney Land without his under pants

    I took him to the movies
    I bought him Bubble Gum
    When he wasn't looking
    I shuved it up his bum

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    this is the one i know

    My boyfriend gave me an apple,
    My boyfriend gave me a pear,
    My boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips and threw me down the stairs

    i gave hime back his apple,
    i gave him back his pear,
    i gave him back an kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs,

    i threw him over london,
    i threw him over france,
    i threw him over a football pitch
    and made him lose his underpants

    i made him lick the dishes,
    i made him lick the floor,
    i made him lick the baby bum
    in 1994

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    at my school the chant goes like this –

    my boyfriend gave me an apple
    my boyfriend gave me a pear
    my boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips and threw me down th stairs.

    i threw him over londen
    i threw him over france
    i threw him over disney without his underpants

    i went around the corner to buy some bubble gum
    and when he wasn't looking i shuved it up his bum

    i gave him back his apple
    i gave him back his pear
    i gave him back the kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs

    Reply
  6. ella hunt

    the one i know goes:

    my boyfriend gave me an apple
    my boyfriend gave me a pear
    my boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips
    and threw me down the stairs

    i gave him back his apple
    i gave him back his pear
    i gave him back his kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs

    he took me too the movies
    to watch a scary film
    and when i wasnt looking he kissed another girl

    so i took him to the sweet shop
    to buy some bubblegum
    and when he wasnt looking i stuck it up his bum!
    :)

    Reply
  7. Beth

    I grew up in the 90s and we played skipping or clapping games to these. We had all the versions really…

    My boyfriend gave me an apple
    My boyfriend gave me a pear
    My boyfriend gave me a kick up the bum
    And threw me down the stairs

    I gave him back his apple
    I gave him back his pear
    I gave him back his kick up the bum
    And threw him down the stairs

    I threw him over London
    I threw him over France
    I threw him over the football pitch
    And he lost his underpants,

    His underpants were yellow
    His underpants were green
    His underpants were multicolored
    And the worst you've ever seen

    He took me to the movies
    To see a scary film,
    And when I wasn't looking
    He kissed another girl

    So I took him to he corner shop
    To go and buy some coke
    And when he wasn't looking
    I kissed another bloke

    I made him lick the dishes
    I made him lick the floor
    I made him lick the babies bum in 1994

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    My version is much longer. We'd spend hours in my school just making up new verses.

    My boyfriend gave me an apple,
    My boyfriend gave me a pear,
    My boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips and threw me down the stairs

    I gave him back his apple
    I gave him back his pear
    I gave him back his kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs

    I threw him over London
    I threw him over France
    I threw him over Disney Land without his under pants

    He took me to the beach,
    To see a pretty pearl,
    But when I wasn't looking,
    He kissed another girl.

    I took him to the movies
    I bought him bubble gum
    When he wasn't looking
    I shoved it up his bum

    I made him lick the dishes,
    I made him lick the floor,
    I made him lick that piece of gum,
    From the movies in '84

    I went to my room,
    To find some magazines,
    And found him with a girl,
    Who was barely in her teens.

    I called my boyfriend's mom,
    I even called his dad,
    To tell them what he'd done,
    And that I'm really mad.

    My boyfriend say he's sorry,
    I told him not to worry.
    Because I told him he should run,
    And shot him with a gun.

    When my boyfriend died,
    I got another one,
    And this one was better,
    Because we had a lot of fun.

    Until one sunny day,
    I found out he had lied,
    He had a lot on secrets,
    And this is why he died…

    (Repeat song until the line "When my boyfriend died…")

    My boyfriend then proposed,
    And I said "Ok then, Sure!"
    But later in the year,
    I found out he wanted more.

    My fiancé asked for children,
    My fiancé asked for love,
    But when we stood on a skyscraper,
    I threw him from above.

    My fiancé and i got married,
    We had a little girl,
    And when my child grew up,
    She met a guy named Earl.

    Her boyfriend gave her an apple,
    Her boyfriend gave her a pear,
    Her boyfriend gave her a kiss on the lips and threw her down the stairs

    She gave him back his apple
    She gave him back his pear
    She gave him back his kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs

    She threw him over London
    She threw him over France
    She threw him over Disney Land without his under pants

    He took her to the beach,
    To see a pretty pearl,
    But when she wasn't looking,
    He kissed another girl.

    She took him to the movies
    She bought him bubble gum
    When he wasn't looking
    She shoved it up his bum

    She made him lick the dishes,
    She made him lick the floor,
    She made him lick that piece of gum,
    From the movies in '94

    She went to her room,
    To find some magazines,
    And found him with a girl,
    Who was barely in her teens.

    She called her boyfriend's mom,
    She even called his dad,
    To tell them what he'd done,
    And that she's really mad.

    Her boyfriend say he's sorry,
    She told him not to worry.
    Because she told him he should run,
    And shot him with a gun.

    When her boyfriend died,
    She got another one,
    And this one was better,
    Because they had a lot of fun.

    When my daughter came home pregnant,
    I shot her boyfriend dead.
    She started to cry,
    So this is what i said:

    "No boyfriends till your 20,
    No fiancés till you've read,
    All the perks of pregnancy,
    And marry when i'm dead."

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Something about your first example makes my brain sing the "Miss Lucy" song:

    Miss Lucy had a baby,
    she named him tiny Tim.
    She put him im the bathtub,
    to see if he could swim.

    He drank up all the water,
    he ate up all the soap,
    he tried to eat the bathtub,
    but it wouldn't go down his throat!

    Miss Lucy called the doctor.
    Miss Lucy called the nurse.
    She even called the lady
    with the alligator purse!

    (There's another verse with the reactions of the doctor, the nurse, and the lady, but I can't recall. I bet my brother knows it; he's the one who taught it to me).

    (P.S. If you'd like an audio file of the tune, I can record it and send it to you!)

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    (From Anonymous, who sent the "Miss Lucy" bit):
    Sorry, I forgot to say that I heard it in Philadelphia, around 1975.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Los Angeles 50's – 60's

    My boyfriends name is Tony
    He comes from Macaroni
    With Pickles on his toes
    And a cherry on his nose
    That's my boyfriend Tony!

    Once he gave me peaches
    Once he gave me pears
    Once he gave me 50 cents
    And kicked me down the stairs, stairs, stairs!

    I gave him back his peaches
    I gave him back his pears
    I gave him back his 50 cents
    And kicked him down the stairs, stairs, stairs!

    There's another verse I don't remember, which has Tony take "me" to the Fair, and then:

    When the fair was over
    He asked if he could take me home
    unk line
    I'd rather walk alone!

    Reply
  12. Amber wedge

    i remember this i was in primary school and i used to play it wiv my friends and the crunchy ice one lollllll

    Reply
  13. Emily Moso

    I threw him over London i threw him over France i threw him over Disney lan and saw his underpants his underpants were yellow his underpants were molti-coloured so he showed them t the queen the took us to a sweetie shop to buy some bubble gum and when he was not looking we stuffed it up her bum

    Reply
  14. Holly Anderson

    When I was in primary school it was like
    my boyfriend gave me an apple
    my boyfriend gave me a pear
    my boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips
    and threw me down the stairs

    i gave him back his apple
    i gave him back his pear
    i gave him back his two black eyes
    and threw him down the stairs

    I threw him over London
    I threw him over France
    I threw him over the USA
    and saw his underpants

    His underpants were green and blue and multi coloured to
    ——————————-

    But I forget the last line it's annoying me so much
    if anyone knows can you tell me

    Reply
  15. idk anything

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  16. meme123

    this is the one i do

    milkman milkman
    do your duty
    have you seen miss mackarooni

    she can do the kan kan
    she can do the splits
    just like this

    (when you say just like this jump into the splits but get lower and lower by keep repeating it)

    Reply
  17. meme123

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  18. I've Read That

    My boyfriend gave me an apple
    My boyfriend gave me a pear
    My boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips
    And threw me down the stairs

    I gave him back his apple
    I gave him back his pear
    I gave him back his kiss on the lips
    And threw him down the stairs

    I threw him over London
    I threw him over France
    I threw him over the harbour bridge
    And he lost his underpants,

    He took me to the movies
    To see a scary film,
    And when I wasn't looking
    He kissed another girl

    I took him to the shops
    To buy some bubblegum
    And when he wasn't looking
    I shoved it up his bum

    I made him clean the dishes
    I made him clean the floor
    I made him clean the babies bum in 1994

    (Sydney, Australia. 2005)

    Reply
  19. hope

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    Reply
  20. Angelina Clayton

    My boyfriend gave me an apple my boyfriend gave me a pear my boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips i chucked him down the stairs i chucked him over germany i chucked him over france i chucked him over the usa he lost his under pants i chucked him back over the usa i chucked him back over france i chucked him back over germany he got his underpants and thats how i say thanks

    Reply
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    Reply
  23. mytinkerbell

    does anyone remember this schoolyard rhyme/taunt, i dnt remember exactly but i think.it went to the tune of the song "he wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini" or a similar rhythm anyway, and we'd say something like "you r an idiotic brain affected disconnected
    …… dumb head" somethin like that….. anyone else know this one? it couldnt just have been only my school surely?

    Reply
  24. WWEDIVASROX

    This is the one I knew growing up.

    My boyfriend gave me an apple,
    My boyfriend gave me a pear,
    My boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips and threw me down the stairs

    i gave him back his apple,
    i gave him back his pear,
    i gave him back his kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs,

    He took me to the movies to watch a dirty film
    and when I wasn't looking
    he kissed another girl,

    I took him to the sweet shop
    to buy some bubblegum
    and when he wasn't looking
    I stuck it up his bum ,

    i made him lick the dishes,
    i made him lick the floor,
    i made him lick the baby bum in 1994

    Reply
  25. Pocha huntas

    Your place is for definite couturier bookmarking.bubblegum casting

    Reply
  26. stacey Bruno

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    Reply
  27. jcosper71

    that is really good i like it

    Reply
  28. anna naesmyth

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  29. anna naesmyth

    im 17 now but when i was 5-6 (2002-3) i used to play this at school (in new zealand) and on the bus along with slime yuck, under the bambi bushes and apple on a stick

    this was our version of my boyfriend

    My boyfriend gave me an apple,
    My boyfriend gave me a pear,
    My boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips and threw me down the stairs

    i gave him back his apple,
    i gave him back his pear,
    i gave him back his kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs

    i threw him over london
    i threw him over france
    i threw him over the harbour bridge and made him lose his trunks
    i made him do the dishes
    i made him sweep the floor
    i made him kiss the ugly wich behinde the kitchen door

    Reply
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  31. Dan Egan

    With regards to how old this rhyme is, there is a version in this book (published in 1897) which was collected from a village in Scotland called Golspie.
    Many children's rhymes have been around for hundreds of years if not longer, but they usually change somewhat as they are handed down from generation to generation. Here is the link:

    https://archive.org/stream/golspiecontribu02nichgoog#page/n178/mode/2up

    Reply
  32. Clara Duncan

    My boyfriend gave me an apple,
    My boyfriend gave me a pear,
    My boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips and threw me down the stairs!

    I gave him back his apple,
    I have him back his pear,
    I gave him back his kiss on the lips and threw him down the stairs!

    We went to the cinema to watch a #+@%& film,
    And when I wasn't looking he kissed another girl!

    We went to the sweet shop to buy some bubblegum,
    And when he wasn't looking I shuved it up his bum!!!

    Reply
  33. Ria Bridges

    I heard this one in the late 80s in the northeast of England. When I moved to Atlantic Canada in the 90s, nobody around here had ever heard of it, or anything similar, and I was starting to wonder if it was some weird little UK playground song! Only the one I remember had a third verse that went:

    I kicked him to the left
    I kicked him to the right
    I kicked him to the garbage men
    On a Saturday night.

    Though to be fair, I wasn't even 5 when I first heard it, so I may well have just made that last bit up over time.

    Reply
  34. Danielle

    TOM gave me an apple
    TOM gave me pears
    TOM is so sexy, I fainted down the stairs!

    (New Jersey, mid 2000’s)

    Reply
  35. Anonymous

    My boyfriend gave me and apple
    My boyfriend gave me a pear
    My boyfriend gave me a kick up the bum and threw me down the stairs

    I gave him back his apple
    I gave him back his pear
    I gave him back his kick up the bum and threw him down the stairs

    I threw him over Scotland
    I threw his over France
    I threw him over the football pitch and he lost his underpants

    His underpants were yellow
    His underpants were green
    His underpants were multicoloured so I sent him to the queen

    She made him do the dishes
    She made him do the floor
    She made him do the baby’s bum til 1984

    Reply

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