Ask Mr. Know It All

Q. Overheard in the adjoining booth in a diner, one person was exuberant about a story and used the word “kweenkydenk.” I think the word was meant to mean “coincidence.” Are you familiar with it?

M.L.M., Boston

A. There are several spellings of “coinkydink,” including “kwinkydink.” You’re right, the word means “coincidence,” and it’s an alteration of the original word. A friend used the term regularly and claimed it came from a children’s TV show a few decades back. I was unable to find an association between the word and a TV show.

Q. If someone claims to be “going commando,” he is not wearing underwear. Why the term?

S.B., Ames, Iowa

A. No one knows, but there are several attempts to explain this fashion of undress. One thought is that commandos in jungle warfare would often go sans underwear to help keep the body cool — they were said to be “going commando.”

Q. I think one of the best logos around is the Macy’s red star. Whenever I see any five-pointed red star, I think Macy’s. Who came up with the design?

G.Z.S., Cape May, N.J.

A. Credit goes to Mr. Macy himself. Rowland Hussey Macy was born Aug. 30, 1822, on Nantucket Island, Mass. At age 15, he joined the crew of the whaling ship the Emily Morgan, where he got a tattoo of a red star. I’m sure there is a story behind that event, but I have not come across it. After four years, he gave up the seafaring life and worked in his father’s store.

Macy opened his own dry-goods store in Boston in 1843. After that store closed, he worked with his brother-in-law. He even went to California during the gold rush of 1849.

In 1858, Macy opened yet another store, this one in New York City.

It was a smashing success. He adopted the star — like his tattoo — as the logo of the company. Macy died in Paris of heart failure on March 29, 1877.


Kirk Douglas turned down two Oscar-winning roles: Lee Marvin’s in “Cat Ballou” (1965) and William Holden’s in “Stalag 17” (1953).

Q. While I waiting in an office, I watched part of a cooking show on mute. For seasoning a soup, the cook tied together a large portion of fresh herbs and immersed them in the soup.

When finished, the bundle was easily removed. Is there a name for this bundle of herbs?

D.N., Mankato, Minn.

A. There is — it’s called a “bouquet garni.” It works well for soups, stews and stocks. You can also make a bouquet garni using dried herbs: Place them in a cheesecloth sachet, tie it and immerse in liquid; remove when finished cooking.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

2014 Gary Clothier

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