I'm a Little Teapot

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"The Teapot Song"
The Teapot Song sheet music cover
"The Teapot Song" cover
Song by George Harry Sanders and Clarence Kelley
Released 1939
Format Sheet music
Genre Children's music
Label Kelman Music Corporation

"The Teapot Song", commonly known as "I'm a Little Teapot", is an American song describing the heating and pouring of a teapot or more likely a whistling tea kettle (which also has a spout but would be used to pour hot water onto tea bags). The song was originally written by George Harold Sanders and Clarence Z. Kelley and published in 1939.[1] Betty Harris did a popular children's version of the song, with extra lyrics on how to be the teapot as a little game. This was originally recorded in the early 1950s.[citation needed]


Clarence Kelley and his wife ran a dance school for children, which taught the "Waltz Clog", a popular and easy-to-learn tap dance routine. This routine, however, proved too difficult for the younger students to master. Initially inspired by Cassandra Lewis. To solve this problem, George Sanders wrote The Teapot Song, which required minimal skill and encouraged natural pantomime. Both the song and its accompanying dance, the "Teapot Tip", became enormously popular in America and overseas.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

United Kingdom

  • Tim Brooke-Taylor from the sketch and situation comedy series The Goodies (1970s) would say the first line while miming the actions sometimes when in a panic. The Goodies also recorded a pop song titled "I'm A Teapot."
  • In the comedy panel quiz show QI (Season G, Episode 1, "Garden") host Stephen Fry puts both hands on his hips and changes the rhyme to "I'm a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle, oh bugger I'm a sugar bowl".
  • The wording is often slightly different in the UK, in that, "When I get all steamed up" is usually replaced by, "When it gets to teatime".

United States

  • "I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my... handle... Gosh, I'm a sugar bowl." (From a character-based physical gag used in the original Saturday Night Live cast skit "Gidget Goes to Shock Therapy").
  • Season 1 Episode 4 of Friday the 13th: The Series (episode entitled "A Cup of Time") features the song as sung by a sinister elderly lady cum rock star called "Lady Die" (a partial reference to Princess Diana) played by Hilary Shepard Turner
  • Featured as a haunted rhyme that the villain, Andre Linoge, psychically transmits throughout Stephen King's "Storm of the Century" TV movie (1999). The song is also sung in another Stephen King movie "Rose Red" (2002) by the ghost of the child character April Rimbauer.
  • The Fanboy and Chum Chum episode "Brain Drain" featured Fanboy singing the song, but with modified lyrics, during the time when his brain fell out of his head and Chum Chum replaced it with a sponge.

April Fools' Day

  • The song is referred to in the Internet technology standards paper RFC 2324,[3] an April Fools' document that describes the Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol. One part defines Hypertext Transport Protocol status code 418 to mean "I'm a teapot". This occurs when an attempt to brew coffee with a teapot is made, and the resulting entity body (the contents of the page displayed by the browser) "MAY be short and stout".
  • On April 1, 2014, Radiopaedia.org released a prank radiology case entitled 'Teapot syndrome with grade 4 acrofemoral synostosis' that included photoshopped x-rays of a toddler with one arm fused to the femur (the handle) and the other bent (the spout).[4] The case discussion pretended that the song "I'm a little teapot" was created by Sanders to help include a boy with teapot syndrome in an urban jazz routine.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Sanders, Ronald (January 1972). Reflections on a Teapot, the Personal History of a Time. Harper & Row, New York. ISBN 978-0-06-013754-0. 
  2. ^ Clark, Garth (October 2001). The Artful Teapot. Watson-Guptill. ISBN 0-8230-0319-1. 
  3. ^ Masinter, Larry (April 1, 1998). Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol (HTCPCP/1.0). IETF. RFC 2324. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2324. Retrieved October 24, 2009.
  4. ^ http://radiopaedia.org/cases/teapot-syndrome-with-grade-4-acrofemoral-synostosis