That's an entirely different plate of beans.
February 4, 2008 10:01 PM   Subscribe

Where does the term "different plate of beans" come from, or am I just making things up?

I just used "different plate of beans" (to mean "that's something completely different"/"horse of another color") and suddenly wondered where I had picked that up from. I've been saying it for years (without getting laughed at), it sounds completely normal to me, and I'm sure I've heard other people say this before. Yet a Google search (in quotes) found only one other person in all of Googledom who had ever uttered "different plate of beans."

Did I just make up a stupid phrase independently or have I been misremembering a more common variant for years (if so, what is it)? Or is this just an example of uncommon regional slang? Beans are quite popular in New Mexico, after all...
posted by pravit to Writing & Language (16 answers total)
"different kettle of fish" is as close as I've heard to this.

Never been sure why you'd put your fish in the kettle, but there you go.
posted by flabdablet at 10:18 PM on February 4, 2008

Best answer: There's also one Google result for "whole new plate of beans," and one result (here on Metafilter) for "whole 'nother plate of beans."

A single person preferred a "whole new bowl of beans" to a plate, and Google also has four instances of "different bowl of beans."

Eight people keep their beans dry in a "different sack of beans." There are 37 for "different bag of beans." "Whole 'nother bag of beans" nets 18. "Whole new bag of beans" gets 17.

"Different pot of beans" gets us 8, while "whole new pot of beans" nets just 2. "Different bucket of beans" has been used once.

"Different can of beans" has 65 results (most for the usage you're looking for, from a quick scan). Additionally, 37 people have opened up a "whole new can of beans."
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:19 PM on February 4, 2008

As Mr. President DSEA illustrates, the world is full of bean-talkers, and we like our plates of beans around here just fine, but when you keep them on plates, that's pretty exclusively MetaFilter.

I'd guess that you secretly replaced the fine vessel you normally served your metaphorical beans in with a MetaFilterian plate sometime after Alanis Morissette covered 'My Humps" last April.
posted by mumkin at 10:32 PM on February 4, 2008

Response by poster: Ahhhhh ok, I knew I was misremembering something; I think I've heard the "can of beans" usage before, although "bag/sack of beans" is quite foreign to me.

I'd guess that you secretly replaced the fine vessel you normally served your metaphorical beans in with a MetaFilterian plate sometime after Alanis Morissette covered 'My Humps" last April.
The weird thing is, I never knew about the MeFi plate of beans thing until I started searching for "plate of beans" tonight. Beans are most commonly served on plates where I live, in refried form, so that might be where it came from.
posted by pravit at 10:39 PM on February 4, 2008

Never heard "plate of beans," but hill of beans is common, in the "it doesn't amount to a hill of beans" sense. "Different hill of beans" turns up 78 Google results, though "hill of beans" in that sense is a whole different [amount] of [stuff] from its common connotation.

So I'm guessing "plate of beans" is not common, but probably no one bats an eye because it seems common to just insert your own creative idiom in the place of "kettle of fish." Like a whole different bag of popcorn or a whole different planeful of snakes.

(Also, I have no idea why I'm using "whole different" there. That's not good English, but oh well.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:41 PM on February 4, 2008

On preview, Metroid Baby beat me to it.

"Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now... Here's looking at you kid."

-Rick, Casablanca

Different idiom, same beans.
posted by billtron at 10:45 PM on February 4, 2008

I think you may be over thinking a plate of beans here.
posted by delmoi at 10:58 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think this is probably an accidental mixture of "hill of beans" and "can of worms".
posted by loiseau at 11:12 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Delmoi has it :)

I'm fairly certain it's a Metafilter-specific jobbie. I had never heard it until that day...
posted by puddpunk at 2:30 AM on February 5, 2008

Whoops, Sorry mumkin - you've got the right one up there :) Sorry I missed it on the preview!
posted by puddpunk at 2:36 AM on February 5, 2008

the different plate of beans is the one that you *under*think.

but i should qualify that for perspective:

if you normally hang out in the regular world, the DPOB is the one you overthink.

if you normally inhabit the metaverse, the DPOB is the one you underthink.

posted by UbuRoivas at 3:54 AM on February 5, 2008

I grew up in NM and never heard or used the phrase "different plate of beans," just as a datapoint.
posted by sugarfish at 6:14 AM on February 5, 2008

Just so we're clear, those Google results are tiny—the highest number is 65 results. You get more hits than that for rare typos. I think it's safe to conclude this is not an idiom in any sense of the word, just an occasional attempt to vary the usual horse/kettle ones.
posted by languagehat at 6:56 AM on February 5, 2008

To elaborate on what Delmoi and Puddpunk mentioned, the whole plate of beans thing was a fairly common (and eventually annoying) meme that ran here on MeFi around the time of that linked post about Alanis' humps.
posted by samsara at 7:26 AM on February 5, 2008

I grew up in NE Iowa and the phrase "That's a different sack of beans" was quite commonly heard growing up. I'm 26. So - it existed before the "Metafilter/Alanis Meme Time".
posted by Nenna at 8:49 AM on February 5, 2008

I live in Albuquerque, and I've never heard the phrase "different plate of beans".

pravit, I agree with you that beans go on plates. Oh, and green, please. Is it lunchtime yet?
posted by yohko at 10:32 AM on February 5, 2008

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