The Frog Prince fairy tale story by the Brother Grimm has, in some versions, the princess kiss a frog, turning it into a handsome prince. “You have kiss a lot of frogs/toads before you meet a prince” is a saying based on this story that became popular in the United States in the 1970s; the saying has been used in dating (where a man or a woman is sought) and also in business (where employees are sought).
“Before you meet the handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of toads!” was cited in print in a December 1975, in a advertisement of a needlepoint pattern from The Stitchery (Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts). “You kiss a lot of frogs before you meet a prince” was cited in print in October 1976.
[This entry was prepared with research assistance from the Quote Investigator.]
Wikipedia: The Frog Prince (story)
“The Frog Prince; or, Iron Henry” (German: Der Froschkönig oder der eiserne Heinrich, literally “The Frog King or the Iron Heinrich") is a fairy tale, best known through the Brothers Grimm’s written version; traditionally it is the first story in their collection. In the tale, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends a frog (possibly meeting him after dropping a gold ball into his pond), who magically transforms into a handsome prince. Although in modern versions the transformation is invariably triggered by the princess kissing the frog, in the original Grimm version of the story the frog’s spell was broken when the princess threw it against a wall in disgust. In other early versions it was sufficient for the frog to spend the night on the princess’s pillow.
The story in popular culture
A popular phrase related to this story is, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince.” It is used to encourage those who still seek true love. Heiner states that it is unclear when this element was added to the story. Maria Tatar’s The Annotated Brothers Grimm merely attributes it to “American versions of the story”, without becoming more specific.
December 1975, Better Homes and Gardens, pg. 119 ad:
BEFORE YOU MEET THE HANDSOME PRINCE, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF TOADS!
HANDSOME PRINCE TO NEEDLEPOINT
“… You have to kiss a lot of toads.” The kit to make this delightful needlepoint piece for pillow top or picture includes design in color on 12-mesh white canvas, Persian yarns to work the design in green, black, red, yellow, white and cream-colored background, needle and directions.
(Advertisement depicting needlepoint pattern for pillow top or picture from The Stitchery, Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts—ed.)
11 February 1976, Marcellus (NY) Observer, “Looking Glass” by Lynda M. Wood, pg. 6, col. 2:
Pithy mottoes and worthy sayings are needlework favorites: “Love is another Word for Mother,” “Bless the Lord, 0 My Soul,” “May the Wind always be at your Back,” or “Before you Meet your handsome Prince, you’ll probably have to Kiss a lot of Toads.”
21 July 1976, Moravia (NY) Republican-Register. “Moravia Local Jottings,” pg. 3, col. 1:
The girls say you sure have to kiss a lot of toads before Prince Charming comes along!
23 October 1976, Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern, “Living single: Not all good—but not all bad, either” by Kathy Greathouse, pg. 9, col. 6:
“You kiss a lot of frogs before you meet a prince,” said one woman.
22 May 1977, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Singles movement championed in Miami” by Walt Menninger, sec. 4, pg. 12, col. 3:
“Please give him the advice my sister always gives me—“You must kiss many frogs before you meet your prince (princess)!”
16 July 1978, The Times-Picayine (New Orleans, LA), “Stories with a Kiss” by Jeanie Blake, sec. 3, pg. 4, col. 6:
Yes sireeee, these lips of mine have been kept busy the past 31 years, because—as a woman knows—you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find that prince.
The Electric Horseman
By H. B. Gilmour
New York, NY: Pocket Books
“You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.”
Google News Archive
3 June 1979, Wilmington (NC) Star-News, Ann Landers syndicated advice column, pg. 4-E, col. 1:
I’ve learned you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince, but I kept my moral standards high until met a guy who seemed perfect for me.
(Written by “Mystified”—ed.)
OCLC WorldCat record
You have to kiss a lot of frogs
Author: Laurie Graff
Publisher: Don Mills, Ont. : Red Dress Ink, ©2004.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English : 1st ed
Summary: Forty-year-old Karrie Klein has dated one too many frogs in her day. Through her wry, sometimes wrenching recollections, Karrie looks back at more than 20 years of dating involving disastrous fix-ups, strange chance encounters, and missed opportunities.
In India, More Women Are Playing Matchmaker For Themselves
by Julie McCarthy
May 25, 2013 5:55 AM
“You have to kiss a lot of frogs,” she says, “before you find Prince Charming.” She found her husband-to-be online after he allayed one of her biggest fears.