I'm a Little Teapot

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"The Teapot Song"
The Teapot Song sheet music cover
sheet music 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 a whistling tea kettle, which also has a spout but would be used to pour hot water onto tea bags or a tea ball filled with loose tea leaves. The song was originally written by George Harold Sanders and Clarence Z. Kelley and published in 1939.[1]


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 (Series 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

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. ^ Dr Matt Skalski (2014-04-01). "Teapot syndrome with grade 4 acrofemoral synostosis | Radiology Case". Radiopaedia.org. Retrieved 2014-08-20.