Drunk History: Mutton Chops

Actually, this particular history lesson is only slightly buzzed.


Sometimes you’re perusing the world wide web, watching cats befriend dogs while clipping your toenails, when you stumble upon Internet gold, like the Inherent Vice trailer, which dropped last week and provided photographic genius in the form of Joaquin Pheonix’s 1970s mutton chops. Have you seen those babies? They are quite literally furry paws.

They were grown, ostensibly, for his free-wheeling detective character in the upcoming film, but I predict that in 2016, mutton chops will surpass the man-bun as the choice red carpet accessory for men.

The way I see it, sideburns have been poised for a comeback since The King passed (RIP). Sure, Elvis brought us “Love Me Tender,” the Vegas shotgun wedding and Halloween’s number one costume choice among dads, but his greatest contribution to society was undoubtably his sideburns. Nobody could deny that Elvis had the chops. He was pure rock and roll, the leader of facial hair.

Rock icons of future generations knew that on-stage pyrotechnics were visually impressive but didn’t mean shit if they themselves couldn’t grow mutton chops. In fact too much fire could easily spark rumors — “Maybe he’s over compensating for weak hair follicles.” Being a true badass meant ear-beards.

John Lennon staged two week-long stints in bed for peace but kept his burns long as a testament to rebellion. Elton John almost didn’t release “Tiny Dancer.”

“People will think I’m saying ‘Tony Danza!'” he cried, but the sideburns — and I know this to be fictional fact — gave him courage.

The trend grew like Rogaine into the 70s and 80s, giving way to the hirsute world of Disco, where sideburns lived harmoniously among perms and on cops and porn stars and porn star cops. Liam Gallagher of Oasis reinforced the chops in the 90s and even wrote a song dedicated to his muttons. Maybe you’ve heart of it — it’s called Wonderwall.

But the facial hair isn’t reserved for rock gods and disco cops. It’s also highly regarded among quirky hipster types — the kind of men who will argue that the Tahitian ukelele is superior to the guitar — and your local barista. Primarily used for warmth on, say, cold Brooklyn nights, the mutton chop is also an excellent callous remover. Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Concords fame was sporting them and a New Zealand accent before it was cool.

They are registered as a public figure on Facebook and you can befriend them if you’d like.

The most current proponent of the mutton chop has to be Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. With them, he is masculine, not to be fucked with, and in need of a warm bath. The mutton chop is emblematic of bravado and like the man-bun, it will soon move from code red (this man cannot afford a haircut) to red carpet staple.

But like pit hair, sideburns are not exclusively male. So pull your hair up and those little strands you’ve taken to calling “baby hairs” down. You’re trending.

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  • Tara Jayne

    I know already that muttonchops are going to be like that “I’m so Fancy” song, that despite what I thought for months, is not sung by Gwen Stefani. I’m going to hate them, then I’m going to love them, then I’m going to fall back on hating them and be like “how could I have ever loved that? It’s fucking horrible”.

  • I am trending right now!


  • Amelia Diamond

    Wait. Slide 1. General Ambrose Burnside…


    Burn – side.

    Side – burns.

    IS THIS WHERE THE WORD SIDE BURNS COMES FROM!?!!?!?!?!?!?!??!??!!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    • yes

      • Kayla Tanenbaum

        what?????? mind. blown.

        • yes! that’s like one thing i learned about the civil war…. i think it was during the civil war?

          • Esther Levy

            Confirmed – he was a civil war general!

          • omgosh i’m so smart

  • I think the world is telling me I need to start drinking…after work, of course.

    I woke up this morning and decided to catch up on episodes of Drunk History I missed while moving. Then I pull up Man Repeller and this is the first thing that popped up.

    It’s destiny, people!

  • Kayla Tanenbaum

    mine really are baby hairs, Esther.

  • lavieenliz
  • Woah talk about a blast from the past!


  • Autumn

    How convenient that General Ambrose Burnside’s last name describes his facial hair preference. Burnside = Side burns.

  • Lulu

    Anyone watch The Roosevelt’s documentary!?? How hot was young Teddy with those mutton chops!!!? He was so bad ass!

  • ksenia

    Love this look!!

    Check out my fashion blog please:


  • Ina Nuvo

    haha, elton john´s picture is the best! those glasses are superb! 😀


  • im naturally trendy!!!!!!!~


  • Greer