If Girls Are Sugar and Spice, What are Little Boys Made of?

Unicorn liking Ice Cream
Illustration by Mary Blair

What is the poem that goes, “Girls are made of sugar and spice”?

Here’s a few versions (and a little history) about the classic children’s poem regarding the differences between boys and girls.

What are Little Girls Made Of ?

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice, of course.

Poem about Little Girls
Illustration by Mary Blair

Click to download the pdf printable Black & White version What Little Girls are Made of Pdf.

What are Little Boys Made of ?

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails!

What are Snips, anyway?

In the early versions of this children’s poem, the first ingredient for boys is either “snips” or “snigs”, with a ‘snig’ meaning a small, slippery eel.

Poem about Little Boys
Illustration by Mary Blair

Click to download the pdf printable Black & White version What Little Boys are Made of Pdf.

Who wrote the original Children’s Poem about Girls and Boys, and Sugar and Spice?

The rhyme sometimes appears as part of a larger work of a children’s poem called What Folks Are Made Of or What All the World Is Made Of.  Most scholars attribute the original children’s version of the poem to the English poet Robert Southey (1774–1843).

The original version attributed to the poet Southey is:

What are little boys made of
What are little boys made of
Snips and snails & puppy dogs tails
And such are little boys made of.
What are young women made of
Sugar and spice and all things nice

This short version of the children’s poem is commonly found in Mother Goose nursery rhyme collections.

What Is the Whole Poem of Girls Are Made of Sugar and Spice?

What are little babies made of, made of?
What are little babies made of?
Diapers and crumbs and sucking their thumbs;
That’s what little babies are made of?

What are little boys made of, made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails;
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice;
That’s what little girls are made of.

What are young men made of, made of?
What are young men made of?
Sighs and leers and crocodile tears;
That’s what young men are made of.

What are young women made of, made of?
What are young women made of?
Rings and jings and other fine things;
That’s what young women are made of.

What are our sailors made of, made of?
What are our sailors made of?
Pitch and tar, pig-tail and scar;
That’s what our sailors are made of.

What are our soldiers made of, made of?
What are our soldiers made of?
Pipeclay and drill, the foeman to kill;
That’s what our soldiers are made of.

What are our nurses made of, made of?
What are our nurses made of?
Bushes and thorns and old cow’s horns;
That’s what our nurses are made of.

What are our fathers made of, made of?
What are our fathers made of?
Pipes and smoke and collars choke;
That’s what our fathers are made of.

What are our mothers made of, made of?
What are our mothers made of?
Ribbons and laces and sweet pretty faces;
That’s what our mothers are made of.

What are old men made of, made of?
What are old men made of?
Slippers that flop and a bald-headed top;
That’s what old men are made of.

What are old women made of, made of?
What are old women made of?
Reels, and jeels, and old spinning wheels;
That’s what old women are made of?

What are all folks made of, made of?
What are all folks made of?
Fighting a spot and loving a lot,
That’s what all folks are made of.

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