Life Is Uncertain. Eat Dessert First

Ernestine Ulmer? Arthur Murray? Earl Wilson? Leopold Fechtner? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: T-shirts and bumper stickers present a modern proverb about the precariousness of existence. Here are two versions:

  • Eat dessert first because life is uncertain.
  • Life is uncertain, so eat dessert first.

Ernestine Ulmer often receives credit although that name is somewhat obscure. Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the popular syndicated column of Earl Wilson in 1962. The well-known ballroom dancer and entrepreneur Arthur Murray received credit. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Arthur Murray says he always eats dessert first, because life is so uncertain.

The statement above referred to a single person; hence, it was not in proverbial form, but the phrasing evolved over time.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Life Is Uncertain. Eat Dessert First

Notes:

  1. 1962 July 18, The Lima News, Eydie Gorme Will Work, Hubby Steve Explains by Earl Wilson, Quote Page 32, Column 3, Lima, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)