The band name comes from a lyric in the Mississippi John Hurt song "Coffee Blues
":I love by baby by the lovin' spoonful
It was Fritz Richmond of the Kweskin Jug Band who came up with the name after John Sebastian told him that his new group would sound like a combination of Chuck Berry and Mississippi John Hurt. This being the '60s, many thought the name was a drug reference, but according to Sebastian, it's actually a reference to cunnilingus (Sebastian had been performing with Hurt around this time). When asked about the name, they would tell the truth, creating some awkward moments when the question came during a live broadcast.