All New Orleanians and Saints fans around the world know the phrase. But where did it come from and who owns “Who Dat”? The origins can be traced all the way back to the 1800’s. Black writers at the time often used it in poems. Also, the musical “Clorindy” used “Who Dat” extensively in its numbers. “Clorindy” was written by Dunbar and Will Marion Cook and opened at the Casino Roof Garden on Broadway in the summer of 1898. The show featured an all black cast, unusual for the time. Then Harpo Marx used it in “A Day at the Races” in 1937. Subsequently it was revived in a skit featuring Buckwheat in the Our Gang series.
So Who Owns “Who Dat”?
The chant became forever associated with the New Orleans Saints in 1983 when two brothers, Steve and Sal Monistere, heard it and decided to use it in a radio spot. They got Aaron Neville to sing “When The Saints Go Marching In” and five Saints players, Dave Waymer, Brad Edelman, John Hill, Reggie Lewis and Louis Oubre to chant, “Who Dat? Who Dat? Who Dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” during the song. Steve and Sal trademarked both “Who Dat!” and “Who Dat?” after the recording session. For a little inspiration, take a look at the original video that goes along with the song below.
A Battle and A Resolution
Over the years, the brothers and their company Who Dat?, Inc., have defended their trademark in several legal battles. Probably the most famous was against the NFL which had started using the phrase on their own Saints merchandise. The Monistere brothers worked out a settlement with the National Football League where both parties could use the phrase, avoiding a lengthy battle in the courts. Many companies now use “Who Dat” by paying royalties to the brothers. However, Steve and Sal encourage fans to use the phrase as long as they don’t try to make money off of it.
After the coin toss at all Saints home games, either a player or guest will raise a hand over their head. When they drop their hand, everyone in the stadium launches into three rousing rounds of the “Who Dat” chant. So the answer to the question who owns “Who Dat”? Legally, the Monistere brothers. However, the hope, heart, and soul of the phrase belongs to every New Orleans Saints fan. We would like to thank Who Dat, Inc. and Steve Monistere for their permission and help with this story. Check out the official Who Dat Shoppe for great merchandise!
Saints Clinch NFC South – WHO DAT!
In case you missed it, here are some highlights from Alvin Kamara’s record breaking Christmas day performance.
To learn more about the fascinating history of New Orleans make sure to book a tour with The Savvy Native the next time you’re in town. We’d love to show you around! Who Dat!
The Savvy Native is a group of experienced local tour guides who were either born in New Orleans or wish they had been.
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