Green Eggs and Ham

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Green Eggs and Ham
AuthorDr. Seuss
IllustratorDr. Seuss
Cover artistDr. Seuss
CountryUnited States
SeriesBeginner Books
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
August 12, 1960
Preceded byOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish 
Followed byThe Sneetches and Other Stories 

Green Eggs and Ham is a children's book by Dr. Seuss, first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2019, the book has sold 8 million copies worldwide.[1] The story has appeared in several adaptations, starting with 1973's Dr. Seuss on the Loose starring Paul Winchell as the voice of both characters, and more recently an animated TV series of the same name on Netflix (which also gave the originally unnamed character Sam pesters the name "Guy-Am-I").

Green Eggs and Ham was also used in the Beginner Book Video Series along with The Tooth Book and Ten Apples Up On Top!.


Sam-I-Am offers a man a plate of green eggs and ham. However, he tells Sam that he hates this food. Throughout the story, Sam further asks him to eat this food in various locations (house, box, car, tree, train, dark, rain, boat) and with various animals (mouse, fox, goat), but is still rebuffed. Finally, Sam-I-Am offers the man to try them, and he tastes the colorful delicacy in hopes Sam-I-Am will leave him alone. When the man tries the dish, he happily declares that the dish is quite tasty.


Green Eggs and Ham is one of Seuss's "Beginner Books", written with very simple vocabulary for beginning readers. The vocabulary of the text consists of just 50 words[2] and was the result of a bet between Seuss and Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss's publisher,[2][3][4] that Seuss (after completing The Cat in the Hat using 236 words)[5] could not complete an entire book without exceeding that limit. The 50 words are a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, and you. Anywhere is the only word used that has more than one syllable.[2]

Reception and cultural impact[edit]

Green Eggs and Ham was published on August 12, 1960.[6][7] By 2001, it had become the fourth-best selling English-language children's hardcover book yet written.[8][9] As of 2014, the book has sold 8 million copies. In 1999, the National Education Association (NEA) conducted an online survey of children and teachers, seeking the 100 most popular children's books. The children ranked Green Eggs and Ham third, just above another Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat.[10] The teachers ranked it fourth.[11] Teachers ranked it fourth again in a 2007 NEA poll.[12] Scholastic Parent & Child magazine placed it #7 among the "100 Greatest Books for Kids" in 2012.[13] That same year, it was ranked number 12 among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal – the first of five Dr. Seuss books on the list.[14]

Woman reading and showing Green Eggs and Ham to children.

The book teaches young children a valuable lesson about not automatically refusing something new or unfamiliar without trying it out first to actually see if they will like it or not. It has become sufficiently ingrained in the cultural consciousness that U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead referenced Green Eggs and Ham in his September 21, 2007, court ruling after receiving an egg in the mail from prisoner Charles Jay Wolff, who was protesting against the prison diet. Muirhead ordered the egg destroyed and rendered his judgment in the style of Seuss.[15][16] Senator Ted Cruz read the book on the floor of the United States Senate during his filibuster over the funding of the Affordable Care Act.[17] Musician has stated that his moniker is inspired by the story.[18]

On September 28, 1991, following Dr. Seuss' death earlier that week, Jesse Jackson recited an excerpt of Green Eggs and Ham on Saturday Night Live during a special tribute segment.[19]


TV, film, and stage[edit]

In 1973, Green Eggs and Ham became the third of the three Theodor Geisel stories, joining The Sneetches and The Zax, to be adapted into the television special Dr. Seuss on the Loose, which featured a connecting narration by The Cat In The Hat. The cartoon was voiced by Paul Winchell. The book was also released as a Beginner Book Video on VHS which included The Cat In The Hat in 1994, and rereleased with The Tooth Book and Ten Apples Up on Top in 1997.

The story was featured as one of the segments brought to life in stage-play fashion in the 1994 TV-film In Search of Dr. Seuss.

Sam-I-Am appeared as a recurring character in season two of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, performed here by John Kennedy. In one episode of the show, Sam assists the Cat in the Hat and his Little Cats with their indoor picnic by preparing his special jumbo green ham and cheese sandwich.

It is adapted as part of Seussical as a number during curtain call.

In the 2008 American computer animated adventure comedy film Horton Hears a Who!, the food Green eggs and Ham are seen and eaten by Mayor McDodd (voiced by Steve Carell),[20] Sally (voiced by Amy Poehler)[21] and their 99 daughters and their son JoJo (voiced by Jesse McCartney).[22]

A 2D hand-drawn animated television series based on the book, Green Eggs and Ham premiered on Netflix in November 2019. It was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and A Very Good Production and distributed by Warner Bros. Television. The cast features Michael Douglas as Guy-Am-I (the unnamed character in the original book) and Adam DeVine as Sam-I-Am, with Ellen DeGeneres serving as executive producer. The fox (named Michael and voiced by Tracy Morgan), mouse (nicknamed Squeaky by Sam and voiced by Daveed Diggs), and goat (simply named The Goat and voiced by John Turturro) appear as secondary recurring characters. Each episode is narrated by Keegan-Michael Key.[23]


The Animaniacs episode "The Warners and The Beanstalk" parodies both Green Eggs and Ham and Jack and The Beanstalk. After Ralph T. Guard in the role of a giant captures Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, the Warners try to get him to eat 'gold eggs and meat', but the giant refuses each time, saying, "I does not like gold eggs and meat. It's you who I would like to eat".[24] The opening lines are spoofed by Ernest Hemingway as "I am sad. Sad, I am. I would not eat blue figs and lamb" in "Papers for Papa".[25]

The Johnny Bravo episode "Cookie Crisis" has Little Suzy as a Buttercup Scout trying to get Johnny to buy her cookies. Johnny is on a strict diet and attempts to avoid her, but she keeps following him at every turn.[26]

The Green Eggs & Sham live album by English punk rock band Sham 69, released in 1999, parodies the book title itself.

The Regular Show episode title "Pam I Am" is a pun on the character Sam-I-Am, but not the story itself.[27]

Upstate New York Hazardous Materials Warning incident[edit]

The quote "Would you. Could you. On a train?" was unexpectedly used on a misinformed Emergency Alert System activation targeting viewers in Upstate New York shortly before the train crash in Hoboken, New Jersey on September 27, 2016. The quote was used on a Hazardous Materials Warning message that was accidentally activated on Utica's NBC television station WKTV during an evening newscast.[28]


At Universal's Islands of Adventure, in Seuss Landing, there is a restaurant called Green Eggs and Ham Cafe that originally served green eggs and ham sandwiches, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, and fries. As of 2019, the restaurant now serves tater tot-based meals, including green eggs and ham tots.

Video games[edit]

Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham is a single-player video game for Game Boy Advance based on the 1960 book of the same name, and was published by NewKidCo and released in November 2003.[29][30] The book was also made into a Living Books adaptation for the PC in 1996, and there were similar differences to reflect the new media such as Sam-I-Am sings his opening lines.

Selected translations[edit]


  1. ^ "20 Best-Selling Children's Books of All Time". HowStuffWorks. December 9, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "10 stories behind Dr. Seuss stories". CNN. January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
  3. ^ "Green Eggs and Ham". 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  4. ^ "99 Interesting Facts about the world #18". All That is Interesting. January 27, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  5. ^ Daven, Hiskey (May 24, 2011). "Dr. Seuss Wrote "Green Eggs and Ham" on a Bet that He Couldn't Write a Book with 50 or Fewer Words".
  6. ^ A 50 -year feast in 50 words Archived August 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Marketplace. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  7. ^ "Happy Birthday Sam-I-Am! 50 Years of Green Eggs and Ham". Gnews. 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  8. ^ "All-Time Bestselling Children's Books". Publishers Weekly. December 17, 2001. Archived from the original on December 25, 2005.
  9. ^ Menand, Louis. "A Critic at Large: Cat People: What Dr. Seuss Really Taught Us". The New Yorker. December 23, 2002.
  10. ^ Kids' top 100 books Archived February 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine NEA: National Education Association. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  11. ^ "Teachers' Top 100 Books". NEA: National Education Association. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  12. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  13. ^ "Parent & Child 100 Greatest Books for Kids" (PDF). Scholastic Corporation. 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  14. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal ( Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  15. ^ "Judge makes 'Green Eggs and Ham' ruling". NBC News. September 23, 2007.
  16. ^ "ORDER the egg filed by the plaintiff is to be destroyed re: 55 Motion for Contempt, injunction", Wolff v. NH Department of Corrections et al (Case 1:2006cv00321), September 18, 2007, Filing 56[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Fitzpatrick, Meagan (September 25, 2013). "Why Ted Cruz read Green Eggs and Ham in the U.S. Senate". CBC.
  18. ^ Solomon, Deborah (January 20, 2011). "Questions for". New York Times – via
  19. ^ Maggin, Alice (August 13, 2010). "Dr. Seuss' 'Green Eggs and Ham' Turns 50". ABC News.
  20. ^ "Steve Carell (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  21. ^ "Amy Poehler (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  22. ^ "Jesse McCartney (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  23. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 29, 2015). "Netflix Picks Up 'Green Eggs and Ham' Animated Series From Ellen DeGeneres". Deadline. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  24. ^ Branimaniacs/The Warners and the Beanstalk/Frontier Slappy at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  25. ^ Papers for Papa/Amazing Gladiators/Pinky and the Ralph at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  26. ^ Date with an Antelope/Did You See a Bull Run by Here?/Cookie Crisis at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  27. ^ Pam I Am at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  28. ^ ""Would You. Could You. On a train? Wait for further instructions" being demonstrated in an unexpected Emergency Alert System alert". Snopes. October 3, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  29. ^ "Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham for Game Boy Advance". Metacritic. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  30. ^ Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham at Metacritic Edit this at Wikidata
  31. ^ "Dr. Seuss in Hebrew is More Amazing Than You'd Think". March 2, 2018.

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