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How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?

This is a classic tongue twister that has been around for quite some time. It is said to be of Scottish origin. The challenge of this tongue twister is to say it a few times fast! Give it a try!


How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?

The clam crammed in the clean cream can.

How can the clam cram in the clean cream can?

Because the clam can, so the clam will.

How will the clam know when to stop cramming?

When the cream can is clean and there's no more room for the clam.

Can the clam cram in an unclean cream can?

No, the clam will be very unhappy and probably die if it tries.

So if you want to see a happy clam, make sure the cream can is clean!


The first known version of this tongue twister was published in 1755 by Richard Rowe in A New Collection of Tongue-Twisters. In the centuries since, the phrase "how can a clam cram in a clean cream can" has become a popular way to test someone's proficiency in English. The sentence is difficult to say quickly, and it's even more difficult to understand when you hear it spoken quickly. This difficulty is due to the fact that the words "clam," "cram," and "cream" all have the same sound. As a result, it's easy to get tongue-tied when trying to say this tongue twister quickly.


Interestingly, the phrase "how can a clam cram in a clean cream can" is also difficult to understand when you read it slowly. This is because our brains are wired to process language at a certain speed. When we see a word like "clam," our brain automatically associates it with the sound of the word, rather than its actual meaning. As a result, we have to slow down our reading speed in order to accurately process the meaning of the sentence.


Like so many tongue twisters, it’s hard to make sense of it all. You may ask yourself: What kind of clam we're dealing with. Is it a Manila clam? A littleneck clam? Or maybe even a quahog? Once we know that, we can begin to retrace its steps. What was this clam doing before it found itself in this predicament? Was it out for a leisurely swim when it got swept up in a current and carried into the cream can factory? Or did it happen upon the cream can and mistakenly crawl inside, thinking it was a giant clam shell?


Here's an early version of the card CLEAN CLAM CANS from the tongue twisting family card game KAMBA
Clean Clam Cans tongue twister images

If you’re a KAMBA player then you may know that one of the challenges in the game is “Clean Clam Cans” and it seems to be one of the tongue twisters that players find pretty tough. Here's the original artist sketch for that card:


If you're new to all the fun of KAMBA then why not check it out here ?


Whether you're trying to improve your English proficiency, playing KAMBA or just want to have some fun, tongue twisters like "how can a clam cram in a clean cream can" are a great way to do it.


Next time you're feeling tongue-tied, give this classic phrase a try!


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