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Nothing Burger is a slang term meaning something or someone that has no inherent value or substance. First used in Hollywood gossip magazines since as early as the 1950s, the term has evolved to describe highly publicized non-events, particularly stories of political intrigue without proof or consequence.
The earliest known usage of "nothing burger" comes from Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons in reference to actor Farley Granger's release from Sam Goldwyn's studio MGM. In her June 1st, 1953 article "Louella's Move-Go'Round," she wrote, "After all, if it hadn’t been for Sam Goldwyn Farley might very well be a nothingburger."
Three years later, Parsons used the term again in reference to actress Shelley Winters' big break. On July 5th, 1956, she wrote, "'You certainly do,' I told Miss Winters, who was Miss Nothingburger when Ronald Colman gave her a chance in A Double Life.
Eventually, the term spread to other writers, including Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown. She used "nothingburger" (as well as "mouseburger") in several of her books, starting with 1965's Sex and the Office, where she wrote, "Wearing one great pin four days in a row is better than changing to nothing-burger clinkers."
While the term existed in the arts and leisure section for years, it made its entry into the political sphere in July 1984. After being forced to resign as President Ronald Reagan's administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Anne Buford called her new job as the head of a federal panel, "a nothing-burger, a joke."
On June 10th, 2006, Urban Dictionary user Nutmegs defined "nothingburger" (shown below). They wrote, "something lame, dead-end, a dud, insignificant; especially something with high expectations that turns out to be average, pathetic, or overhyped." The post received more than 145 upvotes as of June 2017.
Throughout the 2016 presidential election, pundits and politicians referred to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as a "nothing burger." One of the most famous examples came from Charles P. Pierce, a writer for Esquire. On April 6th, 2016, Esquire published an article by Pierce entitled "The Great Hillary Email Nothingburger is Still on the Grill, and It's Certainly Overcooked."
The term continued to be pervasive in the culture, appearing on the subreddit /r/OutOfTheLoop on June 10th, 2017. Redditor angrae posted "'Nothingburger' is a term I've seen a lot since the primaries of the election. Anyone know where it comes from?"
On March 2nd, Ted Cruz appeared U.S. Senator Ted Cruz appeared on Morning Joe to discuss Senator Jeff Sessions' meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Cruz called the probe into the meeting "a nothing burger." Once uploaded to YouTube, the interview received more than 80,000 views in three months.
On June 28th, the controversial activist organization Project Veritas released a video (shown below) in which CNN anchor Van Jones said, "This russia thing is just a big nothing burger." Within 24 hours, the video received upwards of 1.13 million views and 7,100 comments. Meanwhile, Business Insider published an article about the controversial videos, which claimed that a CNN spokesman simply replied “Lol” to an emailed question about the video.
 Barry Popkik – Nothing Burger
 Urban Dictionary – Nothingburger
 Reddit – UnansweredWhere does the term "nothingburger" originate?
 The Wall Street Journal – ‘Nothingburger’: From 1950s Hollywood to the White House
 Google Books – Sex and the office
 Google News – Burford calls job 'nothing burger
 Esquire – The Great Hillary Email Nothingburger is Still on the Grill, and It's Certainly Overcooked
 Business Insider – CNN issues pithy one-word response to undercover video sting attempting to embarrass Van Jones
Jun 30, 2017 at 07:25AM EDT
Jun 30, 2017 at 10:53AM EDT in reply to
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