Can of Worms

'Can of worms - do not open!'
‘Can of worms – do not open!’

Most of us have used or, at least heard this phrase before as in, “That’s a whole new can of worms,” but where is this from? Did they sell small tins of earthworms in Mediterranean spices and oil like sardines at some point? Did worms have a habit of chewing into cans to eat the contents within like mice sneaking into bags of grain? These are the questions that wriggle through my thoughts at night keeping me awake.

So, thanks to modern technology and World Wide Words, I didn’t have to go far to find an answer. It appears that the phrase “can of worms” is actually based on a can of worms! Fisherman used to get their live bait in cans and woe was the fisherman whose can of worms spilled out creating quite a nuisance of trying to get the wriggly critters back into the can and the lid back on.

So now, I can go back to sleep….except…how many worms were there in a can of worms? Were they sold by weight or quantity? Did different varieties cost more than others?

I’ll be back;-)

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