Commercial as fuck

Back in July 2015, when I wrote about the spread of “as fuck” and its abbreviation, “AF,” my sightings were limited to tweets, rap-album titles, and small-batch consumer goods sold on Etsy and other online marketplaces. In a comment on my post, “Y” predicted a bigger future for “AF”: “It’ll be co-opted by the mainstream. In fifty years, Modern Maturity will have recipes for Scrumptious-as-Fuck Cupcakes, and Midwesterners will tell their minister that his sermon was def as fuck.”

Fifty years? Try 22 months. That’s how long it took for New York–based FoodKick to launch its cheeky-as-fuck ad campaign in subways and social media.

FoodKick, which launched in January 2016, is a subsidiary of FreshDirect, an online food-shopping service that began delivering groceries in New York in 2002. FreshDirect promises one-day delivery; FoodKick rushes your order to your Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens address in under an hour. (“The vast majority of the marketplace actually aren’t planners,” FreshDirect’s CEO told the Wall Street Journal.)

And where FreshDirect’s marketing is earnest and reassuring (“Convenience shouldn’t mean compromise”), FoodKick’s is snappy and sassy (“jumbo-sized bluebs,” “Trend, hacked”). The “AF” ads lean heavily on double entendre.

“(And Fresh)”

April 1 presented an irresistible opportunity.


AF may be new in commercial usage — please let us know if you’ve seen earlier examples in advertising! — but in speech and literature it’s older than you may think. The earliest citation in Green’s Dictionary of Slang, which defines as fuck as “a general intensifier, the coarse synon. for ‘as anything’,” is from Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?, a novel by Alan Bleasdale published in London in 1977.

That’s one year earlier than the first citation in Jesse Sheidlower’s The F-Word (“sure as fuck,” 1978).

11 thoughts on “Commercial as fuck

  1. James Slick April 11, 2017 / 3:56 pm

    Since “Modern Maturity” is a publication​ of AARP (minimum age of 50 to join.) the Slanguage of 1980s teens is likely already used there! And that’s creepy….creepy AF!😜


  2. Paula April 12, 2017 / 4:19 pm

    Great topic! I’m not a fan of the AF as are others (one teenaged daughter included) as I see it mostly as sloppy and classless. I do, however, enjoy the humor of seeing it used commercially. I’d buy from them! 🙂


    • James Slick April 12, 2017 / 6:15 pm

      Salty, even just suggestive language sneaking into advertising makes me smile. Eg: “I just Shipped my pants”(Kmart) or “You bet your sweet Aspercreme”. We had a local vacuum cleaner shop whose sign said “Our sweepers really SUCK!” Guess where I bought mine! 🍻


      • Nancy Friedman April 12, 2017 / 6:47 pm

        Beginning in the 1960s, the Scandinavian vacuum-cleaner company Electrolux ran a series of ads in the UK with the slogan “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” It’s said the double entendre was unintentional.


  3. Steve Hall April 15, 2017 / 3:52 pm

    Saw that first poster in a subway train last week as I was visiting NYC. Immediately wondered if you’d covered this here or on your other blog! You don’t disappoint, Nancy. 🙂


  4. rcalmy April 27, 2017 / 4:39 pm

    Not an advertising usage. However, returning from a business trip recently, I saw a man and a woman with matching t-shirts reading “Married AF.” I immediately thought of this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nextmoon April 29, 2017 / 6:26 pm

    Love this! Also like their URL »


  6. Anthony Shore (@operativewords) May 9, 2017 / 12:12 am

    I had heard AF only spoken as the letters A /eɪ/ and F /ɛf/ until recently, when I heard it as monosyllabic “af” /æf/. It’s fun to watch language evolve in real-time.


    • James Slick May 9, 2017 / 2:04 am

      You’re right, I have heard it “as a word” too here in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. … Real time evolution indeed! 👍👍👍


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