Sports commentators say the darndest things, and this marvelous mashup was said on an NFL pregame show. It is a conflation of “the cream of the crop” (the best of a particular group) and “separate the wheat from the chaff” (to separate the good from the inferior). Because the subject was football, the commentator might also have been thinking of the phrase “separate the men from the boys” (to distinguish the experienced participants from the inexperienced). Kudos to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and sending it in!
This malaphor, spoken by Sting in the documentary “Twenty Feet from Stardom” (an excellent film by the way), involves the phrases “icing on the cake” (something extra on a successful endeavor) and “cream of the crop” (finest or best). I don’t believe “cream on the cake” is a British expression, but please send me your comments over the pond about this.
It is similar to a previously posted malaphor and the tag for this website, “cream of the cake.” Here is the entire quote from the movie:
“Real musicians, there’s a spiritual component to
what they do…. Success is just cream on the cake.
There’s this idea that you can just go on American
Idol and become a star, but you may bypass the
spiritual… and if you bypass that, then your success
will be wafer-thin.” Sting
Thanks to Barry Eigen for hearing this one and sending it in!