The origin of phrases is often full of urban legends. One which has a wide variety of heritage is ‘The Real McCoy’ meaning “the real thing” or “genuine article”. So where did this phrase come from?
Some say that Joseph McCoy, a 19th Century American entrepreneur who was famous for promoting the transportation of over 200,000 longhorn cattle. Because of his reputation and reliability, he was often cited as saying “The Real McCoy”.
The second option was a boxer, Norman Selby, who boxed under the name Kid McCoy born in 1872. He was listed # 1 Light Heavyweight of all time and because he was so good, a lot of people tried to pretend to be him. AS such he adopted the phrase “The Real McCoy” to identify himself.
There are some though who say that it actually derives from a corruption of a Scottish phrase “The real MacKay”, first recorded in 1856 as: “A drappie o’ the real MacKay,”. The distillery, who saw the power of advertising used this phrase to promote their whisky and it took off so much that soon became the phrase we still hear today.
With it being Burn’s Night it seems fitting that we raise a dram to perhaps give it to the Scots the Real McKoy.