Great Moments in Accounting History: Rise of the Bean Counter

In honor of all of the accountants who have sacrificed their (social) lives in the name of satisfying our country’s income tax laws, I will be presenting, over the next few days, several key moments in accounting history.

For this, the inaugural post, I will explore the origin of a common term used to describe accountants: Bean Counter. There are some accountants who take offense to this term but after reading this post, I believe, they will not only feel the same way but will probably wish they hadn’t read what follows…

It all started one bright sunny day in the spring of 1970-something when a rogue accountant, whose name shall be withheld for no reason at all, took accounting to a level never imagined by less roguish accountants and literally counted every bean in the inventory during an audit of a local beanery.  No one quite knows what brought on this fit of extreme-accounting but as word spread throughout the beanery an employee, with a keen sense of history, summoned a local reporter to the scene so that the rest of the world, or at least those living around the beanery, could share in the dramatic events that were unfolding.

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Beans on Toast

The quick thinking reporter, who had an unusual knack for creating imaginative nicknames, dubbed this accountant, who continued counting beans for 47 ½ hours straight despite brutally painful finger cramps that would have forced lesser accountants to count by the jar of beans rather than individually: “The Individual-Bean-Counter-Guy”.  As the story spread from household to household the name was truncated to “bean counter” because people were only half-listening  to the person telling them the story while inexplicably developing a craving for Beans on Toast .  While none of this story is true I think we can all agree that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from it.



Categories: Accounting, Humor

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  1. Great Moments in Accounting History: Beno Was His Name-O « Accounting 4 Life

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