This song is a classic hit of the Bubblegum genre, which is a very light style of music with catchy hooks and simple lyrics. In the late '60s, Bubblegum Pop served as an alternative to the socially conscious music that was dominating the airwaves during an exceptionally turbulent cultural and political time. It was very popular with kids who had no interest in the music of Bob Dylan or The Doors, and who sought out music that was basically meaningless, but fun.
Joey Levine, who was the lead singer of the Ohio Express, wrote this with Arthur Resnick, who also wrote "Under The Boardwalk" and "Good Lovin'." Levine worked for Buddah Records under the direction of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, who used studio musicians to back up Levine on this song.
Floyd Marcus is the drummer for the 1910 Fruitgum Company, who also recorded for Buddah Records and recorded many of the same songs as The Ohio Express. Floyd told us: "Joey had brought in a demo of 'Yummy Yummy Yummy,' and often back then the demos were not nearly as sophisticated as what you can do at your house today with Pro Tools - they want much more finished product these days. But Joey went and he did 'Yummy Yummy Yummy' as a demo, and Jeff and Jerry said, 'Yeah, we're going to take you to the studio and do this.' And before they knew it, the demo was out on the market. So it became a big hit, but you know, The Ohio Express wasn't really happy with it going out that way. They never had meant it to go out in the form it did. So it just shows you that often people don't really know what they have, and they don't really understand the business as well as some of these guys who are producing or managing."
Some listeners believed the lyrics "I got love in my tummy" were about pregnancy. Floyd Marcus talks about this phenomenon: "There's that whole story about '1, 2, 3 Red Light' being this underlying date rape song. But you know, that just goes along with people wanting to make more out of things than they really are. I mean, it's like saying when John Lennon said 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' wasn't about LSD, or "Little Susie's Dream" by The Tradewinds, because of the initials, LSD, people read into those things. Hey, it's good for promo. People often want to give more meaning to things than they really have." (Check out our interview with Floyd Marcus.)
This was used in an episode of The Simpsons where in a flashback to 1969, Homer is singing this song while ignoring the moon landing.
Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkWhen "bubblegum music" appeared on the charts, I wasn't into it at all in high school. But I got shipped off to college in '68 and that music showed up in most of the college taverns around campus. So I gradually started liking it for the looniness & scatter-brained aura of it. They're great to dance to when a jukebox is blasting it out with a tavern full of juiced-up college kids. This song & "Green Tamboreen" were wild favorites. But then "96 Tears" was so popular too & I don't know if it's a bubblegum song or not. Anyways---it's a wonder I graduated college, since it seems all my time was spent at the college bars and taverns dancing my little heart out with all the jocks. The song itself seemed to have lyrics that were a bit dirty. Or was it just an urban legend sort of thing??? But I'm babbling again...
Harry White from CaliforniaIn the 60s I'd be driving around with my stoner friends listening to the radio, and when this song came on they'd get really upset and wonder how it ever got on the same station that played Hendrix. Their reaction was like bubble gum music was social engineering, the same as what Frankie Avalon did to rock and roll in the 50's taking the rebellion out of the youth who could see through society's BS.
Rotunda from Tulsa, OkLove this zany hit from 1968. I was a freshman in college & working at a Sonic drive-in. At the Sonic, I'd hear this song come over their P.A. system & I thought it was a cute song, until it got to the lyrics "I got love in my tummy" and it sounded a bit risque'. Ya know? Anyway, an older dude (a college senior) told me he heard it was about oral sex. I didn't believe him. I never did buy this single, but I loved the song. I know that this song, like other bubblegum songs, was a wide departure from the many socially conscious songs of '68 & '69. I think a lot of rock & rollers just got burnt out on too many socially conscious songs that really brought you down mentally. Kids loved this song too. I remember my little cousin (10 at the time) really was bazookas over this song. HAA! I always loved the drums on this hit & wondered who their drummer was.
Bubblesk from Memphis, TnOK, now I'm confused. When this song came out, I was a terrible punk in jr. high and my three older brothers in high school rebelled against the norm and loved bubblegum music and owned the single and played the heck out of it and other bubblegum hits. They never let me touch their records! So I never saw the artists' names on the single's labels. I always thought this song was by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Way back then, my brothers were always snickering around when they played this record and told me it was about some girl having sex and getting pregnant, but who knows what it's about? Does anyone offer an explanation? Inquiring minds want to know.
Bryan from Tulsa, OkOkay, everytime I hit play I get any song except Yummy Yummy Yummy
John from Cincinnati, OhThe Ohio Express were really 3 "groups", with the actual band by that name (from Ohio) not having any of their hits, but that group would appear on TV shows lip-syncing Joey Levine's songs. Levine also had hits as The Third Rail ("Run Run Run"), The Jet Stream ("All'a Quiet on West 23rd"), Reunion "(Life is a Rock") and the Kasenetz Katz Singing Orchestral Circus ("Quick Joey Small").
Barry from Teaneck, NjThese are not the same people who recorded Beg Borrow and Steal (although the re-release says it's by the Ohio Express). It is easy to hear they are by different people. Beg Borrow and Steal was first released under the Attack label by The Rare Breed (which is exactly the same recording as the one released under the Cameo Parkway label by the Ohio Express).
Mark from London, EnglandThe flip-side to this record, Zig Zag, is just an instrumental played backwards.