Jumping Worms Joke

The jumping worm invasion is the big news these days. This is a follow up to the post I wrote on May 19, 2022. I found this article, “Invasive jumping worms now in 34 states—including Iowa.” It was posted by an Indianola, Iowa outdoorsman named Tom Charlton.

The most interesting thing about this article is the jumping worm joke at the end. I’ll have to do this in stages. First, he prefaces this joke with the one about “What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?” And I can’t help but think he’s got a different version than the one I know. He says “Of course, we all know what’s worse than biting into an apple and finding half a worm.”

I don’t know what would be worse than finding half a worm. In fact, this actually happened to me. I was a young man living at the YMCA in Mason City, Iowa. That was back in the days when you could rent a single occupancy sleeping room there on the cheap. There was an old snack vending machine there and I got a Butterfinger. I bit into it and found—half of some kind of little worm. Spoiler Alert: the worm half was doing something typical for worms. The answer is below.

By the way, that Mason City YMCA was placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 2002 and has been renovated into the River City Apartments, a low-income housing resource. I don’t know if it still has snack vending machines.

I also can’t think of anything worse than finding half a worm. One worm joke site says “Two worms.” Somehow, it doesn’t have the zing of the “half a worm” version.

I thought the joke (which has been found in print since 1911) went more like: “What could be worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm in it?” The punchline is “finding half a worm in it.”

In the next sentence, Mr. Charlton writes: “…but do you know why the young boy thought the jumping worm would taste like chewing gum?”

I really didn’t get this. I googled it and couldn’t find anything about it. Then my wife, Sena, did a web search on Bing and solved the riddle immediately. She gave me a hint which helped: think of a brand of gum.

It’s actually an old worm joke. It’s very similar to Mr. Charlton’s joke, except it leaves out the word “jumping.” Think of a brand of chewing gum and you’ll get it. It’s not Trident.

The punchline is “Because they’re Wrigleys.” I got sidetracked into overthinking it because it was about jumping worms.

That should have made coming up with the punchline easier. Thank you, Mr. Charlton!

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