Barney Fife says Aunt Bee’s Pickles Taste Like Kerosene . . . A Celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth & Music, Part 1

How big of an Andy Griffith Show fan are you? Take this quiz and find out. Can you identify who says each of the following, to whom, or the context?

NOTE: Whether you’re a fan or not, or if you don’t want to take the quiz, read on to see why this show is an American favorite.

If you haven’t already, first read about my trip to Mayberry (Mt. Airy, North Carolina) and the rest of it here.

Mayberry Musings

The Andy Griffith Show Quotation Quiz

1. The only way you’ll catch Old Sam (the elusive fish) is if he comes in here for a shave and a haircut.

2. There’s one thing for sure: You’ll never catch him (the elusive fish). And you know why? To catch Old Sam, you gotta be smarter than he is.

3. Boy, you wouldn’t notice a muddy elephant in the snow, would ya?

4. That ain’t fair; her hittin’ first and explainin’ the rules after.

5.  Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their neighbor! Repeat! Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their neighbor!

Go here for the rest of the quiz and the answers. . .

A Celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth & Music, Part 1

“When a man carries a gun all the time,
the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear.
So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry
to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.”  –Sheriff Andy Taylor


“The Andy Griffith Show” was ranked one of the top ten shows of all time, according to the TV Guide. It won numerous awards. The reasons are as varied as the individual characters, particularly the dynamics of the Andy Taylor-Barney Fife duo (Andy Griffith & Don Knotts).

There’s Sheriff Andy Taylor’s philosophy of law enforcement–respect without fear–and then there’s Barney’s. He’s the hyper-vigilant deputy with the itchy trigger finger, only allowed one bullet–to be kept in his left pocket for emergencies only. Yet when it comes right down to it, Barney will testify:

“Why Andy’s the best friend I got in the whole world,
and as far as I’m concerned, he’s the best sheriff too. . . .
You gotta understand, this is a small town.
The sheriff is more than just a sheriff.
He’s a friend, and the people in this town,
they ain’t got a better friend than Andy Taylor. . . .
You asked me if Andy runs a tight ship, Mr. Milton. Well, no he don’t.
But that’s because of something that he’s been trying to teach me
ever since I started working for him, and that is,
when you’re a law man and you’re dealing with people,
you do a whole lot better if you go not so much by the book,
but by the heart.” –Deputy Barney Fife

Yet this show wouldn’t be the success it was without Barney Fife’s antics, initiated by Don Knotts himself. In 1960, when the pilot aired (7th season episode of Make Room For Daddy), Danny Williams (Danny Thomas) has a run-in with the law when he’s arrested by Sheriff Andy Taylor for running a stop sign in Mayberry. Danny wants to contest the ticket, but Andy is sheriff, Justice of the Peace, mayor, and newspaper editor. Danny is stuck without recourse.

Frances Bavier is in this episode, but as a different character. There’s no Aunt Bee. Otis’s drunk precursor comes in to arrest himself and locks himself in jail. Ron Howard as Opie is present, and Ron’s real life father Rance Howard plays a camera man role.

According to a documentary I saw, Don Knotts watched this pilot and wrote to the powers-that-be, claiming something vital was missing: the sheriff needed a deputy! And Don was ready to step in. He completely created the character of Barney Fife himself, played that role for five years, and won five Emmys for it, thus proving his comic genius. The TV Guide ranked him 9th in the “50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time” list in 1999.

“Well, what are the state police gonna think
when they get here and find we got an empty jail?
They gonna think this is just a hick town
where nothin’ ever happens.” –Barney

“Well, now, you got to admit that–
that’s about the size of it.”  –Andy

Deputy Barney Fife is the perfect foil to Andy’s wise, calm demeanor. Barney claims to know more than he really does, evident when he hilariously attempts to recite the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution by heart. “It’s amazing how that stuff stays with you,” he brags. “Once you learn something it never leaves you.”

But memory doesn’t always serve him well. As a self-proclaimed history expert, he has the same trouble with the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Well, the Emancipation Proclamation, uh, was a proclamation,
was what it was . . . about Emancipation . . . there was these folks,
and how else was they gonna get themselves emancipated
unless there was a proclamation?
So they got themselves a proclamation and they called it
the Emancipation Proclamation . . .”
–Deputy Barney Fife, history expert

No, Barney can’t remember basic U.S. history but he can cite every town and county regulation by number, word for word.

Barney suffers from delusions of grandeur regarding his gunman skills and his sex appeal, whether it’s Juanita, Thelma Lou, or the Fun Girls. He proves his devotion to his parents by buying them a septic tank for their anniversary. His determination to track down criminals results in unorthodox methods and elaborate schemes, whether posing as a mannequin in Weaver’s department store or setting out to prove the bank is an easy target for robbers.

On top of that, whatever the problem, you know you’re in trouble with assistants like Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) or his cousin Goober (George Lindsey).

When Barney does get the chance to take charge, he botches it. For one thing, he can’t seem to function without Andy. He constantly consults the sheriff even when Andy’s trying to vacation at home or picnic with Helen. And little does Barney know the numerous times Andy steps in to help him save face or to give him credit for an arrest. Or to become hero of a cave rescue.

As mentioned in my last Mayberry post, Barney’s zeal for the law is second to none. Don’t jaywalk when Barney’s around, or you might get a ticket. Worse yet, get hauled off to jail. Things can only go south from there. That’s why you have to “Nip it in the bud!”

“First sign of youngsters goin’ wrong,
you got to nip it in the bud. . . .
Nip it. You go read any book you want on the subject
of child discipline and you’ll find that every one of them
is in favor of bud-nippin’.”
–Deputy Barney Fife

So nip it! Whether it’s jaywalking or other questionable activities.

The name “Barney Fife” has turned up as American slang for anybody who is either inept or over-zealous. Though Don Knotts left the show in 1965, even today, people offer tributes to this over-dramatic deputy, resulting in various videos that feature his famous “Nip it in the Bud” speeches.

Here’s Paul Boland rapping as Barney Fife, with the same bud-nipping theme.

“The Pickle Story” (season 2, #11) was Don Knotts’ favorite episode, supposedly voted the number one series fan favorite. Andy, Barney, and Opie make their contribution to Aunt Bee’s pickling efforts and end up eating a whole batch.

“I don’t know how I can face the future when I know
there’s eight quarts of these pickles in it.”

Poor Aunt Bee. She takes such good care of Andy and Opie. Her cooking skills are revered county-wide, from fried chicken, pork chops, and cornbread biscuits to Opie’s favorite apple pie. She provides meals for inmates, too. However, though she excels in cooking, her pickles taste like kerosene, according to Barney. A fly dies after landing on one. But the guys don’t have the heart to tell her how bad they are.

“You mean you actually WANT her to make another batch
of them kerosene cucumbers?”

Via classic_film on Visual Hunt

Always in competition with busybody friend Clara Edwards—whether food, flowers, or men—Aunt Bee is determined to enter her newest pickle batch into the fair, in hopes of winning the contest after eleven years of losing to Clara. Be sure to watch this episode if you haven’t seen it.

“Well, there’s only one thing to do,
that’s what we should have done in the first place . . .
learn to love em’.” (Aunt Bee’s pickles, that is)—Andy

Besides taking good care of Andy and Opie, Aunt Bee takes charge in other situations, too. She supervises Otis when he serves time at the Taylor house due to a jail overflow. By exhausting Otis with chore after chore, she proves her worth as a warden.

When mountain man Briscoe Darling kidnaps her for courtship purposes, she begins his strict training in good manners, promptly inciting him to call off the engagement.

Other endearing episodes feature Andy’s efforts raising Opie. Myriad opportunities arise to teach his son responsibility (when Opie accidentally kills a mother bird, breaks a window, or destroys Aunt Bee’s prize rose); kindness (when Opie plays a mean trick on Goober); and loyalty (keeping promises to a friend). He also encourages Opie to stand up for himself with a bully who takes his milk money and with a new, trouble-making boy in town.

Andy rewards hard work (a bike for perfect grades) and rewards patience and honesty when Opie finds a wallet with $50. Yet these situations backfire. Miss Crump has made a mistake on the grades. The man later returns for his wallet after Andy lets Opie keep the money.

Thus, discernment is needed in situations that aren’t clear-cut. One such time is when Opie, in the spirit of Robin Hood, steals food to give to a man camping in the woods. But which matters more? Compassion, generosity, or honesty? Andy has to rise to the parenting challenge while explaining life to Opie. And Opie also learns that “rich” means more than just material gain.


Andy and Opie find father-son camaraderie at the fishing hole, and also when Aunt Bee leaves town. The two keep a messy house and tidy it up before her return. However, they throw it back into a shambles before Aunt Bee walks in, so she won’t feel unneeded. The next time she leaves, they resort to having Peggy cook for them.

Periodically during Opie’s upbringing, Andy is the one doing the learning. By show’s end, Andy’s own foibles show him eating humble pie, especially when he fails to heed his own advice. For example, though he has just stressed the importance of honesty to Opie, Andy turns around and fabricates a story for the antique dealer–in Opie’s presence.

One of my favorites is when Opie tries to increase circulation for his home-printed newspaper. He eavesdrops to report the latest gossip, then publishes it. Andy, Barney, and Aunt Bee are humiliated to find their careless words in print and throw themselves into a tizzy trying to prevent the rest of the newspapers from getting distributed.

Another time, Andy nags and shames Opie for contributing only three cents to charity, when, in fact, Opie has been saving money for a coat for a friend. Upon this discovery, Andy has to “eat crow” for dinner.

To round the show out, there’s Floyd Lawson the barber, Otis Campbell the town drunk, Goober and Gomer Pyle, Ernest T. Bass, Rife Hollister, and various womenfolk: Ellie Walker, Helen Crump, Thelma Lou, Clara, the Fun Girls, and more.


And, of course, the musical Darling family, headed by jug-blowing patriarch Briscoe Darling. Come back next time for another celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth and Music, Part 2.

How did you do on the quiz above?

Are there any other favorite Andy Griffith Show memories or nostalgia you want to share?

I’d love to hear from you!

Ever musing,




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7 thoughts on “Barney Fife says Aunt Bee’s Pickles Taste Like Kerosene . . . A Celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth & Music, Part 1

  1. Fun quiz! I knew some of them. Enough to be respectable. But I have a confession.
    I never could warm to Ernest T. Bass. He drove me crazy and I wanted someone to put him on the end of
    a fishhook. I usually don’t watch episodes with him. Maybe I should give him another try.

    1. To be honest, Ernest isn’t my favorite either. At first I didn’t care for the Darling family, either, for the opposite reason–the sons never talked. But I loved listening to their bluegrass music, so that made up for it. And I like Briscoe Darling’s character. In fact, stay tuned for more about the Darlings next time.

      Thanks for trying the quiz! Glad you knew some of the lines.

  2. The Andy Griffith Show was always reruns for me, but funny–I don’t ever remember seeing one without Barney. I don’t know if they just didn’t play those as much or if I missed them, but I was shocked to read he left the show and they had seasons without him. Can’t imagine the show without him! He was never my favorite, but like he said, it would seem something was missing if he wasn’t there.

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