There are always going to be sayings that we use and we know what we are trying to get across, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we understand what we are saying. One of those sayings is “the proof is in the pudding.”
We use it to express the fact that whatever we are trying to prove is obviously true because of what is behind it.
If you really stop to think about it, this idiom does not really make much sense when you look at it directly. In fact, you may even start wondering what proof there could possibly be in any pudding you have in front of you?
Although it may not make sense in that way, it makes perfect sense to anyone who is saying it and often, to those who are hearing it.
In reality, it comes from a more extended saying but it has been said in its shortened form so frequently that we just accept it as is. It’s part of an old proverb that basically says: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In other words, the pudding really doesn’t prove anything but when you eat the pudding, the proof is obvious.
This saying was first recorded in the 17th century but more than likely, it goes back many more years. In fact, there may be some uses of that saying that stretch as far back as the 14th century.
Back then, pudding wasn’t a sweet treat that comes out of a can, like it is today, it was a type of sausage. Those sausages were often mixed with various spices and cereal and stuffed into stomachs or intestines in order to be steamed and boiled.
In the middle ages, pudding could either be good or bad. If the meat was contaminated, it could even be very bad and perhaps even fatal. That is why you had to put the pudding to the proof.
Although we don’t use it exactly in the same way these days, it’s interesting to know where this common expression comes from and why it still has some relevance, even though it has been skewed over the centuries.