On many blogs and typo-webpages, tutorials etc. I keep seeing variations of this phrase "Kern, Baby, Kern."

I have searched for it and found many more occurrences, so it must be a profound truth or a famous quote or the name of something or other. Or maybe it is a pun or alteration of some other slogan?

Are there professors out there believing that people do not kern enough? Is "kern, baby, kern" valid advice in general? Or just valid when talking to graphic design "babies", namely beginners or amateurs?

  • 1
    A place to hang out and chat with graphic designers, sure. Right here in the chat rooms for GDSE. chat.stackexchange.com/…
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 30, 2018 at 10:39
  • @BillyKerr Awesome, I come here sporadically for several years, and I get good answers (and can maybe help a little) but I have never noticed any chat rooms. Will help me to keep my questions and answer less chatty... Oct 5, 2018 at 10:27

2 Answers 2


For sure it's a pun, though Suzanne Brockman's "Home Fire Inferno - Burn Baby Burn" is itself 'borrowed' from the 1977 song by The Trammps - Disco Inferno; the main chorus line of which is "Burn Baby Burn, Disco Inferno" so I think they probably deserve some credit for the initial origin of the phrase.

  • 1
    The fact that I just gave you "the tick" does not mean I am suddenly an expert on books(?) or films(?) and songs. But it settles my nagging fear about having missed something deep and profound about typography. It is a nice pun, so believe that you got it right. Thank you. Oct 5, 2018 at 10:33

It's a paraphrase of the book sub-title "Home Fire Inferno - Burn, Baby, Burn!" by Suzanne Brockman.

Burn, baby burn was a chant during the race riots in Watts, California. The Watts riots, sometimes referred to as the Watts Rebellion, took place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles from August 11 to 16, 1965. On August 11, 1965, Marquette Frye, an African-American motorist on parole for robbery, was pulled over for reckless driving.

It was an easy flip to "Kern, Baby, Kern!" which was the title of an article if I remember correctly; but, the author's name escapes me.

I love the trivial pursuit.

Guilty. I taught Typography for years.

  • 3
    I wrote that I taught Typography for years. That's not technically correct. I watched people learn Typography in spite of me.
    – Stan
    Sep 30, 2018 at 4:58
  • 1
    thats teaching for you
    – joojaa
    Sep 30, 2018 at 6:45
  • Like I said in my question, this comes up in the titles of several articles. Oct 5, 2018 at 10:28
  • @Stan I will so steal that quote from you about watching people learn in spite... We are teaching a team of young people and our sponsors will like that rendering. Oct 5, 2018 at 10:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.