There are numerous fashion and cultural statements the “Yankee Doodle” song is actually referring to. For those of you unfamiliar, check out the original first verse and chorus:
Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.
Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.
The term macaroni here actually isn’t referring to the food, which may be surprising. Since most of us learned this song as a kid, and kids love macaroni noodles, we probably thought it natural to combine the two. But, in reality, they have nothing to do with each other.
Macaroni was a fashion term at the time, and a rather annoying one at that. Macaroni was reserved for people whose style of dress far exceeded what those would consider normal fashion, and were considered neither male nor female but more of a super effeminate male.
And, when I say these dudes far exceeded normal fashion boundaries, a macaroni wig would be a wig that would pop up multiple feet in length, leaving even Simpsons characters blushing. Oh, and it was popular for dudes to wear two watches. Not for any reason in particular, but so simply when people would ask why, they could say, “one to tell me what time it is… and… one to tell me what time it is not.” Seriously. I want to invent a time machine and punch these people already. That alone justifies the whole American Revolution.
But, the macaroni thing started in London, and was considered high fashion around the time of the American Revolutionary War. And, when the British would come to the United States and see what they assumed was Americans trying to be fashionable, they would taunt them.
Knowing this is the background, you can more appropriately understand every little taunt going on in this song. A yankee was a colonialist (ie American); add the word doodle to make them sound stupid; and a dandy was a more masculine fashion trend as a reaction to not fully wanting to partake in the perceived ridiculousness of macaroni fashion, but was also tied in with being very vain.
So, essentially, to start the song, you’ve got a stupid colonial trying to pretend he knows how to dress, now he comes riding in a pony, because the doodle is too stupid or poor to ride a horse. To go on, this stupid colonial is so far from high fashion and is so ignorant to it, that he thinks he can fit in with Brits by putting a stupid feather in a hat and thinking that’s a thing. Oh, and one more thing you silly Yankee doodle: Learn to dance, because you really need to know how to mind your step, and if you do that then maybe the girls will like you as much as they like us cool Brits.
Man… I’m really glad the USA pulled the original Brexit. But, yeah, an American dandy was kind of the equivalent of a vain hipster with their fashion, and this is even more solidified because they pulled a Brexit before it was cool.
That’s all we’ve got for now. Unless you want us to see what our macaroni is all about.