I was having one of those in depth conversations with a local Italian friend “Nik” about languages and how words from all over the world are transformed into uses for other languages, and how Italians are notorious for this. We both had a good laugh about it when he chuckled out loud and began to recount the story of the “GOLD ONE”.
What IS the “Gold One” or referred to in Italian as the “GOLDONE”
(all one word, pronounced /gōl-dō-nə/)?
In the USA it’s commonly known as the “Condom” or “Prophylactic” widely used today as a Birth Control or Preventive Care product. In Italy there is a commonly circulated legend about the origin of this word GOLDONE which became popular during World War II and is still a commonly used term today. Most Italians don’t even know why, but Nik was savvy and gave a good story.
Throughout history, the use of contraceptives has been a dirty subject! Does anyone, even in 2016 feel comfortable placing a pack on the counter at the local drug store? You know everyone in line behind you has that grin going on along with that batting eyelash and roll of eyeballs! Everything from animal intestines and linen sheets to seaweed leaves and latex has been tested throughout the years in order to satisfy the sexually aroused human masses. It really wasn’t until World War II that condoms were finally embraced when American troops were given condoms to keep them happy, healthy and fatherless while enjoying the overseas action from the END OF WAR party. In an effort to combat common VD infections and pregnancy, golden colored paper prophylactic kits or “pro-kits,” were distributed to soldiers with instructions for self administration.
Nik told me that the Italians believed that the WW II American Soldiers used to carry condoms in single packs wrapped in gold colored paper, labelled ‘Gold One’….which if you read it “Italian style” you would get the run-together-word GOLDONE!! Now you have to chuckle at the fact this word was transformed into that ‘All Famous’ Italian VOWEL ENDING word. Furthermore, at the root of the term could in fact be the name of Louis Goldoni, apparent owner of a condom factory established in Italy sometime in the 1920’s and was a major contributor to that industry. Hmmmmm…really strange or coincidence? I could hardly find a word of truth on the Internet about it all…
Is the above story true? dunno. Do we care? nope. It’s so entertaining when an Italian elaborates an amusing tale about his own culture and recognizes the humor in it…..I had a good belly laugh and we both just shook our heads and threw in a few good Italian hand gestures for good measure! Even NOW in 2016, when lovers are about to “hook up”, your Italian friend may lean over ‘with a reminder’ and whisper in your ear “Avevo la Goldone?” I think you can figure out the meaning of that line!?!