as nice as it is naughty

English translation: as tasty as it is enticingly self-indulgent

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:as nice as it is naughty
Selected answer:as tasty as it is enticingly self-indulgent
Entered by: Charles Davis

05:59 Mar 10, 2016
English language (monolingual) [Non-PRO]
Cooking / Culinary / Food descriptor
English term or phrase: as nice as it is naughty
Dear colleagues,

We're discussing this phrase in an English-Hungarian question. The discussion is very interesting, because there are many approaches proposed, not to mention the cultural differences that add even more flavor to it.

The context is a healthy muffin recipe: "a delicious, occasional treat that is as nice as it is naughty".

What does nice and naughty mean here?

Our ideas:
1) An experienced colleague explained that nice & naughty is generally used by Santa Claus, a lovely connotation. I too believe naughty food means food that's very tasty and attractive, but not necessarily healthy, something that makes you feel guilty. And this recipe is both nice (i.e. healthy) and naughty (i.e. pleases gourmet palates, as well).

2) Another colleague believes it means the muffin is very tasty, but doesn't look good, it's inaesthetic.

So what is it? Healthy & tasty or ugly & tasty?

Thank you very much for any input.
Annamaria Amik
Local time: 11:48
as tasty as it is enticing self-indulgent
Explanation:
I was going to answer this before Phil did, but was interrupted. However, since he hasn't said what I was going to, I'll add my thoughts.

"Nice" is easy: it definitely means tasty, delicious, appetising. The trickier word here is "naughty".

There was an TV advertising campaign for cakes in the UK in the 1970s and 80s, with the slogan "Naughty, but nice". Supposedly the slogan was devised by the novelist Salman Rushdie, working as a copywriter, though actually the phrase goes back at least as far as a 1939 film starring Dick Powell and Ann Sheridan. If this text is British, I think there's a strong chance the writer was thinking of these adverts and expects some of his/her readers to remember them, as I do.

Naughty, as Phil has said, means wrong, but only mildly so, and above all it implies pleasurable wrongdoing, the pleasure of transgression. In relation to cakes or muffins, "naughty" really means "fattening". Also unhealthy, because of cholesterol, heart disease and all that, but above all departing from virtuous eating. So muffins are fattening and unhealthy because they're full of fats and carbohydrates.

However, this is supposed to be a healthy muffin, so I don't think they're using "naughty" to mean unhealthy, or even fattening, because that would contradict their message. I think the naughtiness here is mainly the pleasure of eating something you know you really shouldn't but that is very tempting, very nice, but in this case having the pleasure of giving yourself a treat without paying the full price in weight gain etc. "Naughty" can't actually mean "healthy", but it doesn't really mean "unhealthy" either. I would say it means tempting and self-indulgent, because eating muffins, even healthy ones, is a guilty pleasure, a departure from the path of dietary virtue.

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Note added at 53 mins (2016-03-10 06:52:59 GMT)
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I meant to put "enticingLY self-indulgent" in the answer box.

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Note added at 1 hr (2016-03-10 07:04:18 GMT)
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I think I've sent a somewhat confused message here. I would say that "naughty" in this context, even in the "Naughty but nice" cake ads, only means fattening or unhealthy indirectly. It mainly means pleasurely transgressive, the mildly guilty pleasure of doing something you know you really shouldn't.

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Note added at 1 hr (2016-03-10 07:18:43 GMT)
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That's how I see it too. Virtuous eating is a typically Anglo-Saxon protestant concept, I think: not just a means to the end of being thin and healthy, but something good in itself — virtue as its own reward. It's often said that the dullness of traditional English cooking is symptomatic of a culture that regards sensory pleasure as morally suspect. "Naughty" is a word mainly applied to children, and being naughty is fun simply for the fact of breaking the rules, in a culture that instils stifling conformity as an end in itself.
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 10:48
Grading comment
Thanks a lot!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



SUMMARY OF ALL EXPLANATIONS PROVIDED
4 +8as tasty as it is enticing self-indulgent
Charles Davis
4 +5delicious, but not very healthy
philgoddard
4Delicious and Decadent
airmailrpl


Discussion entries: 7





  

Answers


21 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
delicious, but not very healthy


Explanation:
Naughty means sinful, but not in.a bad way. Like you say, it's a guilty pleasure, since the "healthy" muffin is presumably full of sugar. It's nothing to do with Santa Claus, though parents do say that he won't come if their children are naughty, ie badly behaved.

philgoddard
United States
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Notes to answerer
Asker: I agree, thanks. And what do you think "as nice as it is naughty" means, given that delicious is already mentioned in the phrase?


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Gabriele Demuth: Yes, it is described as an "occasional treat", so it may be mentioned as part of a healthy diet, but this particular muffin would surely be full of sugar and fatt :)
33 mins

agree  Jack Doughty
35 mins

agree  Louisa T.
1 hr

neutral  Charles Davis: Isn't it a bit strange to present a "healthy" muffin recipe as not very healthy? // It's a clue that "not very healthy" is probably not what "naughty" is intended to mean, and that's how our answers are different. Healthiness is not the issue, IMO.
1 hr
  -> That's not our problem. Annamaria hasn't explained what she means by "healthy", but unless it's sugar free there's no such thing. I don't understand how your answer is different to mine.

agree  Katherine Rutter
10 hrs

agree  Yvonne Gallagher: I read it this way as well. It tastes great but is not necessarily a healthy treat (a guilty pleasure)
1 day 9 hrs
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53 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +8
as tasty as it is enticing self-indulgent


Explanation:
I was going to answer this before Phil did, but was interrupted. However, since he hasn't said what I was going to, I'll add my thoughts.

"Nice" is easy: it definitely means tasty, delicious, appetising. The trickier word here is "naughty".

There was an TV advertising campaign for cakes in the UK in the 1970s and 80s, with the slogan "Naughty, but nice". Supposedly the slogan was devised by the novelist Salman Rushdie, working as a copywriter, though actually the phrase goes back at least as far as a 1939 film starring Dick Powell and Ann Sheridan. If this text is British, I think there's a strong chance the writer was thinking of these adverts and expects some of his/her readers to remember them, as I do.

Naughty, as Phil has said, means wrong, but only mildly so, and above all it implies pleasurable wrongdoing, the pleasure of transgression. In relation to cakes or muffins, "naughty" really means "fattening". Also unhealthy, because of cholesterol, heart disease and all that, but above all departing from virtuous eating. So muffins are fattening and unhealthy because they're full of fats and carbohydrates.

However, this is supposed to be a healthy muffin, so I don't think they're using "naughty" to mean unhealthy, or even fattening, because that would contradict their message. I think the naughtiness here is mainly the pleasure of eating something you know you really shouldn't but that is very tempting, very nice, but in this case having the pleasure of giving yourself a treat without paying the full price in weight gain etc. "Naughty" can't actually mean "healthy", but it doesn't really mean "unhealthy" either. I would say it means tempting and self-indulgent, because eating muffins, even healthy ones, is a guilty pleasure, a departure from the path of dietary virtue.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 53 mins (2016-03-10 06:52:59 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I meant to put "enticingLY self-indulgent" in the answer box.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2016-03-10 07:04:18 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I think I've sent a somewhat confused message here. I would say that "naughty" in this context, even in the "Naughty but nice" cake ads, only means fattening or unhealthy indirectly. It mainly means pleasurely transgressive, the mildly guilty pleasure of doing something you know you really shouldn't.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2016-03-10 07:18:43 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

That's how I see it too. Virtuous eating is a typically Anglo-Saxon protestant concept, I think: not just a means to the end of being thin and healthy, but something good in itself — virtue as its own reward. It's often said that the dullness of traditional English cooking is symptomatic of a culture that regards sensory pleasure as morally suspect. "Naughty" is a word mainly applied to children, and being naughty is fun simply for the fact of breaking the rules, in a culture that instils stifling conformity as an end in itself.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 10:48
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thanks a lot!
Notes to answerer
Asker: Your answer is a real treat, thank you! :) 'Virtuous eating' almost sounds Aristotelian. I agree, nice and naughty here means it's packed with all the benefits of healthy foods AND pleasures of guilty foods.

Asker: Don't worry, the message was clear, I don't think anything suggested 'unhealthy' per se, just the pleasure generally associated with unhealthy foods.

Asker: Precisely! I commented on the same ethical-cultural aspects in the EN-HU pair. Here in Eastern Europe, good food traditionally means food that is tasty, and if it looks good, that's a bonus. But health-conscious eating has only recently come in vogue.

Asker: I think I'll keep this question open just so that I can learn more of this interesting stuff from you :)


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  P.L.F.Persio: what a yummy answer;-)
1 hr
  -> Thanks very much!

agree  Tony M: Yes, naughty = indulgent, a guilty pleasure. "Soemthing you're not supposed to eat"; and I too think it is a nod back to that earlier GB cultural reference.
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Tony! That's it exactly.

agree  Fiona Gilbert Riley: Immediately thought of naughty but nice too - I wonder if the slogan is known to those who weren't direct targets of that campaign, if, indeed, the expression has passed into general use. Any responses you young ones?
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Noni! I wonder too, but I fear we're probably showing our age.

agree  Sheila Wilson: I guess the young 'uns are wondering what it's all about. Interesting info about the original slogan being penned by Rushdie.
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Sheila. They probably are! Rushdie certainly did work as a copywriter and supposedly also devised "That'll do nicely" for American Express. And "Guinness is good for you" is supposed to have been thought up by Dorothy L. Sayers.

agree  Arabic & More
5 hrs
  -> Thanks, Amel :)

agree  DLyons: Goes back to at least 1884 "New Catholic World", Volume 39. Also in 1934 "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".
13 hrs
  -> Thanks, Donal. The latter is "He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice" (slightly different), which must be where the Santa Claus ref. in the question comes from.

agree  Jean-Claude Gouin: 'Healthy & tasty or ugly & tasty?' is NOT what it's all about. Charles, I like your COMMENTS and translation. Bravo! // I added a 2nd 'M' to 'comments' ...
17 hrs
  -> Thank you very much, Jean-Claude!

agree  acetran
4 days
  -> Thanks, acetran :)
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Delicious and Decadent


Explanation:
as nice as it is naughty => Delicious and Decadent

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airmailrpl
Brazil
Local time: 05:48
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thank you.

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