It's taken 5 decades of research but finally the Dictionary of American Regional English will specialize in words and phrases from all over the U. S. Finally life will be explained in common terms. Today we discussed some commonly used phrases that you grew up with...maybe. Well, ok, I grew up with this phrase "How the cow ate the cabbage."
It means "An expression to indicate the speaker is laying it on the line, telling it like it is, getting down to brass tacks - with the connotation of telling someone what he or she needs to know but probably doesn't want to hear."
The expression has its roots in a story about an elephant that escaped from the zoo and wandered into a woman's cabbage patch. The woman observed the elephant pulling up her cabbages with its trunk and eating them. She called the police to report that there was a cow in her cabbage patch pulling up cabbages with its tail. When the surprised police officer inquired as to what the cow was doing with the cabbages, the woman replied, 'You wouldn't believe me if I told you!'" From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997)"
What is so unusual about this one? I have had to explain it a lot. What is a phrase that you grew up with?