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Green Eggs and Ham is a children's book by Dr. Seuss, first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2019, the book has sold 8 million copies worldwide.[1] The story has appeared in several adaptations starting with 1973's Dr. Seuss on the Loose starring Paul Winchell as the voice of both Sam-I-am and the first-person narrator.[2]

Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham.jpg
AuthorTheodor Geisel
Cover artistDr. Seuss
CountryUnited States
SeriesBeginner Books
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherRandom House
The Living Books Company
Publication date
August 12, 1960
Preceded byOne Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish 
Followed byThe Sneetches and Other Stories 


The story follows an unnamed character who does not like green eggs and ham, and his adversary Sam-I-Am who wants him to eat it. The story becomes a refrain as Sam persistently follows his rival through an assortment of locations (in a house, in a box, in a car, in a tree, on a train, in the dark, in the rain, on a boat) and dining partners (a mouse, a fox, and a goat). The character finally gives in and tries the dish, just to make Sam “let him be”, and finds it quite tasty, happily responding, "I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you, Sam-I-am."


Green Eggs and Ham is one of Seuss's "Beginner Books", written with very simple vocabulary for beginning readers. The vocabulary of the text consists of just 50 words[3] and was the result of a bet between Seuss and Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss's publisher,[3][4][5] that Seuss (after completing The Cat in the Hat using 236 words)[6] could not complete an entire book without exceeding that limit. The 50 words are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.[3]

Reception and cultural impactEdit

Woman reading and showing Green Eggs and Ham to children.

Green Eggs and Ham was published on August 12, 1960.[7][8] By 2001 it had become the fourth-best selling English-language children's hardcover book of all time.[9][10] As of 2014 the book has sold 8 million copies. In 1999 the National Education Association (NEA) conducted an online survey of children and teachers, seeking the 100 most popular children's books. The children ranked Green Eggs and Ham third, just above another Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat.[11] The teachers ranked it fourth.[12] Teachers ranked it fourth again in a 2007 NEA poll.[13] Scholastic Parent & Child magazine placed it #7 among the "100 Greatest Books for Kids" in 2012.[14] That same year, it was ranked number 12 among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal – the first of five Dr. Seuss books on the list.[15]

The book has become sufficiently ingrained in the cultural consciousness that U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead referenced Green Eggs and Ham in his September 21, 2007, court ruling after receiving an egg in the mail from prisoner Charles Jay Wolff who was protesting against the prison diet. Muirhead ordered the egg destroyed and rendered his judgment in the style of Seuss.[16][17] Senator Ted Cruz read the book on the floor of the United States Senate during his filibuster over the funding over Obamacare.[18] Musician has stated that his moniker is inspired by the story.[19]

On September 29, 1991, following Dr. Seuss' death earlier that week, the Reverend Jesse Jackson recited an excerpt of Green Eggs and Ham on Saturday Night Live during a special tribute segment.[20]


Animated TV SpecialEdit

  • In 1973 “Green Eggs and Ham” became the third of the three Geisel stories to be adapted into the television special Dr. Seuss on the Loose, which featured a connecting narration by The Cat In The Hat. (The Sneetches and The Zax were the other two.)


  • The song "Green Eggs and Ham" was recorded by the band Moxy Früvous on their 1992 independent debut album Moxy Früvous and is a rap treatment of the famous story.


  • The book was also made into a Living Books adaptation for the PC and there were similar differences to reflect the new media such as Sam-I-Am sings his opening lines.

Television seriesEdit


  • The book was also featured as one of the segments brought to life via live-action in a stage-play fashion in the 1994 TV film In Search of Dr. Seuss.


  • In VHS/DVD, The book had included two other stories, The Tooth Book & Ten Apples Up On Top.

Selected translationsEdit


  1. ^ "20 Best-Selling Children's Books of All Time". HowStuffWorks. December 9, 2011.
  2. ^ "Dr. Seuss on the Loose". IMDb. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "10 stories behind Dr. Seuss stories". CNN. January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
  4. ^ "Green Eggs and Ham". 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  5. ^ "99 Interesting Facts about the world #18". All That is Interesting. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  6. ^ Daven, Hiskey (May 24, 2011). "Dr. Seuss Wrote "Green Eggs and Ham" on a Bet that He Couldn't Write a Book with 50 or Fewer Words".
  7. ^ A 50 -year feast in 50 words Archived August 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Marketplace. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  8. ^ "Happy Birthday Sam-I-Am! 50 Years of Green Eggs and Ham". Gnews. 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  9. ^ "All-Time Bestselling Children's Books". Publishers Weekly. December 17, 2001. Archived from the original on December 25, 2005.
  10. ^ Menand, Louis. "A Critic at Large: Cat People: What Dr. Seuss Really Taught Us". The New Yorker. December 23, 2002.
  11. ^ Kids' top 100 books Archived February 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine NEA: National Education Association. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  12. ^ "Teachers' Top 100 Books". NEA: National Education Association. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  13. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  14. ^ "Parent & Child 100 Greatest Books for Kids" (PDF). Scholastic Corporation. 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  15. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal ( Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  16. ^ "Judge makes 'Green Eggs and Ham' ruling". MSNBC.
  17. ^ "ORDER the egg filed by the plaintiff is to be destroyed re: 55 Motion for Contempt, injunction", Wolff v. NH Department of Corrections et al (Case 1:2006cv00321), September 18, 2007, Filing 56
  18. ^ Fitzpatrick, Meagan (September 25, 2013). "Why Ted Cruz read Green Eggs and Ham in the U.S. Senate". CBC.
  19. ^ Solomon, Deborah (January 20, 2011). "Questions for". New York Times – via
  20. ^ Maggin, Alice (August 13, 2010). "Dr. Seuss' 'Green Eggs and Ham' Turns 50". ABC News.
  21. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 29, 2015). "Netflix Picks Up 'Green Eggs and Ham' Animated Series From Ellen DeGeneres". Deadline. Retrieved April 30, 2015.

External linksEdit