“You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs Before You Meet Your Handsome Prince”

Kiss Some Frogs

We named our boat “Kissed Some Frogs.” More “mature” readers will remember the old Fairy tale about the Princess who kissed the frog, and the frog turned into a handsome prince. “The Frog Prince” was the first text in the fairy tale collection of the Brothers Grimm and has gained wide popularity to an international audience.

In the tale, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends the Frog Prince, whom she met after dropping a golden ball into a pond under a Linden tree, and he retrieves it for her in exchange for her friendship. The Frog Prince, who is under a wicked fairy (or sorcerer)’s spell, magically transforms back into a handsome prince. In the original Grimm version of the story, the frog’s spell was broken when the princess threw the frog against the wall, at which he transformed back into a prince, while in modern versions, the transformation is triggered by the princess kissing the frog (a motif that apparently first appeared in English translations).

In other early versions, it was sufficient for the frog to spend the night on the princess’ pillow.

Like many other folk tales, “The Frog Prince” has inspired many artists and poets, who reduce the tale to the primary “Kissing a Frog” theme.

Wolfgang Mieder of the University of Vermont has published an in-depth analysis in “Marvels & Tales, Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies” from Wayne State University Press. You can read it here.

There is also an article in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry titled “The Frog Prince: Tale and Toxicology.” in which the author suggests that early storytellers had knowledge of the hallucinogenic effects of kissing or licking toxic frogs. They theorize that this leads to the notion that a young woman can kiss a frog and turn him into a prince, and frogs speak or suddenly transform in other stories!

For those unfamiliar with the fairy tale, here are three versions of the story.

The Frog Prince – Original “Thrown against a wall” version

Published in 1812 by The Brothers Grimm. Unknown Translation.

In olden times, when if you made a wish, it would always come true, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face. Close by the king’s castle lay a great dark forest, and under an old lime tree in the forest was a well. When the day was very warm, the king’s child went out into the forest and sat down by the side of the cool fountain, and when she was dull she took a golden ball, and threw it up on high and caught it, and this ball was her favourite plaything.

Now it so happened that on one occasion the princess’ golden ball did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it, but on to the ground beyond, and rolled straight into the water. The king’s daughter followed it with her eyes, but it vanished, and the well was deep – so deep that the bottom could not be seen. On this she began to cry, and cried louder and louder, and could not be comforted. As she was complaining, someone said to her, “What troubles you, king’s daughter? You weep so that even a stone would show pity.”

She looked around to the side from whence the voice came, and saw a frog stretching forth its thick, ugly head from the water. “Ah! old water-splasher, is it you?” Said she. “I am weeping for my golden ball, which has fallen into the well.”

“Be quiet, and do not weep,” answered the frog, “I can help thee, but what wilt you give me if I bring thy plaything up again?”

“Whatever you will have, dear frog,” said she. “My clothes, my pearls and jewels, and even the golden crown which I am wearing.”

The frog answered, “I do not care for thy clothes, thy pearls and jewels, or thy golden crown, but if you will love me and let me be thy companion and play fellow, and sit by thee at thy little table, and eat off thy little golden plate, and drink out of thy little cup, and sleep in thy little bed. If thou wilt promise me this I will go down below, and bring thee thy golden ball up again.”

“Oh yes,” said she, “I promise thee all you wish, if you will bring me my ball back again.” She however, thought, “How the silly frog does talk! He lives in the water with the other frogs, and croaks, and can be no companion to any human being!”

But the frog, when he had received this promise, put his head into the water and sank down, and in a short while came swimming up again with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the grass. The king’s daughter was delighted to see her pretty plaything once more, picked it up, and ran away with it. “Wait, wait,” said the frog. “Take me with thee. I can’t run as thou canst.” But what did it avail him to scream his croak-croak after her, as loudly as he could? She did not listen to it, but ran home and soon forgot the poor frog, who was forced to go back into his well again.

The next day when she had seated herself at the table with the king and all the courtiers, and was eating from her little golden plate, something came creeping splish splash, splish splash, up the marble staircase, and when it had got to the top, it knocked at the door and cried, “Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me.”

She ran to see who was outside, but when she opened the door, there sat the frog in front of it. Then she slammed the door to, in great haste, sat down to dinner again, and was quite frightened. The king saw plainly that her heart was beating violently and said, “My child, what art thou so afraid of? Is there perchance a giant outside who wants to carry thee away?”

“Ah, no,” replied she. “It is no giant but a disgusting frog.”

“What does a frog want with you?”

“Ah, dear father, yesterday as I was in the forest sitting by the well, playing, my golden ball fell into the water. And because I cried so, the frog brought it out again for me, and because he so insisted, I promised him he should be my companion, but I never thought he would be able to come out of his water! And now he is outside there, and wants to come in to me.”

In the meantime it knocked a second time, and cried, “Princess! Youngest princess! Open the door for me! Dost thou not know what thou saidst to me, yesterday by the cool waters of the fountain? Princess, youngest princess! Open the door for me!”

Then said the king, “That which you have promised, you must do. Go and let him in.” She went and opened the door, and the frog hopped in and followed her, step by step, to her chair. There he sat and cried, “Lift me up beside you.” She delayed, until at last the king commanded her to do it. When the frog was once on the chair he wanted to be on at the table, and when he was on the table he said, “Now, push your little golden plate nearer to me that we may eat together.” She did this, but it was easy to see that she did not do it willingly. The frog enjoyed what he ate, but almost every mouthful she took choked her.

At length he said, “I have eaten and am satisfied; now I am tired, carry me into thy little room and make thy little silken bed ready, and we will both lie down and go to sleep.”

The king’s daughter began to cry, for she was afraid of the cold frog which she did not like to touch, and which was now to sleep in her pretty, clean little bed. But the king grew angry and said, “He who helped thee when thou wert in trouble ought not afterwards to be despised by thee.” So she took hold of the frog with two fingers, carried him upstairs, and put him in a corner. When she was in bed he crept to her and said, “I am tired, I want to sleep as well as thou. Lift me up or I will tell thy father.” Then she was terribly angry, and took him up and threw him with all her might against the wall.

“Now, you will be quiet, you horrible little frog,” said she. But when he fell down he was no frog but a king’s son with beautiful kind eyes. He, by her father’s will was now her dear companion and husband. Then he told her how he had been bewitched by a wicked witch, and how no one could have delivered him from the well but herself, and that tomorrow they would go together into his kingdom. They then went to sleep, and next morning when the sun awoke them, a carriage came driving up with eight white horses, which had white ostrich feathers on their heads, and were harnessed with golden chains, and behind stood the young king’s servant, Faithful Henry.

Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed into a frog, that he had caused three iron bands to be laid around his heart, in case it should burst with grief and sadness. The carriage was to conduct the young king into his Kingdom. Faithful Henry helped them both in, and placed himself behind again, and was full of joy because of this wonderful end to their troubles. When they had driven a part of the way, the king’s son heard a cracking behind him as if something had broken. So he turned round and cried, “Henry, the carriage is breaking.”

“No, master, it is not the carriage. It is a band from my heart, which was put there in my great pain when you were a frog and imprisoned in the well.” Again and once again while they were on their way something cracked, and each time the king’s son thought the carriage was breaking; but it was only the bands which were springing from the heart of faithful Henry because his master was set free and was happy.


The Frog Prince – The later “Sleep on my Pillow” version

Published in 1812 by The Brothers Grimm. Translated in 1905 by Edwardes, M., Taylor, E., Maynard, Merrill, & Co.
Thanks to the Lit2Go from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at USF for the text.

One fine evening a young princess put on her bonnet and clogs, and went out to take a walk by herself in a wood; and when she came to a cool spring of water, that rose in the midst of it, she sat herself down to rest a while. Now she had a golden ball in her hand, which was her favourite plaything; and she was always tossing it up into the air, and catching it again as it fell. After a time she threw it up so high that she missed catching it as it fell; and the ball bounded away, and rolled along upon the ground, till at last it fell down into the spring. The princess looked into the spring after her ball, but it was very deep, so deep that she could not see the bottom of it. Then she began to bewail her loss, and said, ‘Alas! if I could only get my ball again, I would give all my fine clothes and jewels, and everything that I have in the world.’

Whilst she was speaking, a frog put its head out of the water, and said, ‘Princess, why do you weep so bitterly?’ ‘Alas!’ said she, ‘what can you do for me, you nasty frog? My golden ball has fallen into the spring.’ The frog said, ‘I want not your pearls, and jewels, and fine clothes; but if you will love me, and let me live with you and eat from off your golden plate, and sleep upon your bed, I will bring you your ball again.’ ‘What nonsense,’ thought the princess, ‘this silly frog is talking! He can never even get out of the spring to visit me, though he may be able to get my ball for me, and therefore I will tell him he shall have what he asks.’ So she said to the frog, ‘Well, if you will bring me my ball, I will do all you ask.’ Then the frog put his head down, and dived deep under the water; and after a little while he came up again, with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the edge of the spring. As soon as the young princess saw her ball, she ran to pick it up; and she was so overjoyed to have it in her hand again, that she never thought of the frog, but ran home with it as fast as she could. The frog called after her, ‘Stay, princess, and take me with you as you said,’ But she did not stop to hear a word.

The next day, just as the princess had sat down to dinner, she heard a strange noise—tap, tap—plash, plash—as if something was coming up the marble staircase: and soon afterwards there was a gentle knock at the door, and a little voice cried out and said:

‘Open the door, my princess dear, Open the door to thy true love here! And mind the words that thou and I said By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.’
Then the princess ran to the door and opened it, and there she saw the frog, whom she had quite forgotten. At this sight she was sadly frightened, and shutting the door as fast as she could came back to her seat. The king, her father, seeing that something had frightenedher, asked her what was the matter. ‘There is a nasty frog,’ said she’s at the door, that lifted my ball for me out of the spring this morning: I told him that he should live with me here, thinking that he could never get out of the spring; but there he is at the door, and he wants to come in.’

While she was speaking the frog knocked again at the door, and said:

‘Open the door, my princess dear, Open the door to thy true love here! And mind the words that thou and I said By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.’ Then the king said to the young princess, ‘As you have given your word you must keep it; so go and let him in.’ She did so, and the frog hopped into the room, and then straight on—tap, tap—plash, plash—from the bottom of the room to the top, till he came up close to the table where the princess sat. ‘Pray lift me upon chair,’ said he tothe princess, ‘and let me sit next to you.’ As soon as she had done this, the frog said, ‘Put your plate nearer to me, that I may eat out of it.’ This she did, and when he had eaten as much as he could, he said, ‘Now I am tired; carry me upstairs, and put me into your bed.’And the princess, though very unwilling, took him up in her hand, and put him upon the pillow of her own bed, where he slept all night long. As soon as it was light he jumped up, hopped downstairs, and went out of the house. ‘Now, then,’ thought the princess, ‘at last he is gone, and I shall be troubled with him no more.’

But she was mistaken; for when night came again she heard the same tapping at the door; and the frog came once more, and said:

‘Open the door, my princess dear, Open the door to thy true love here! And mind the words that thou and I said By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.’
And when the princess opened the door the frog came in, and slept upon her pillow as before, till the morning broke. And the third night he did the same. But when the princess awoke on the following morning she was astonished to see, instead of the frog, a handsome prince, gazing on her with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen, and standing at the head of her bed.

He told her that he had been enchanted by a spiteful fairy, who had changed him into a frog; and that he had been fated so to abide till some princess should take him out of the spring, and let him eat from her plate, and sleep upon her bed for three nights. ‘You,’ said the prince, ‘have broken his cruel charm, and now I have nothing to wish for but that you should go with me into my father’s kingdom, where I will marry you, and love you as long as you live.’

The young princess, you may be sure, was not long in saying ‘Yes’ to all this; and as they spoke a gay coach drove up, with eight beautiful horses, decked with plumes of feathers and a golden harness; and behind the coach rode the prince’s servant, faithful Heinrich, who had bewailed the misfortunes of his dear master during his enchantment so long and so bitterly, that his heart had well-nigh burst.

They then took leave of the king, and got into the coach with eight horses, and all set out, full of joy and merriment, for the prince’s kingdom, which they reached safely; and there they lived happily a great many years.


The Frog Prince – The most famous, least accurate “Kiss” version

Version author unknown. Thanks to Neo on Scribd for the copy.

Once upon a time, a beautiful princess lived in a big castle. One day, her father, the king, gave her a golden ball as a birthday present.

One evening, she went out with her ball and started to play with it. While she was tossing the ball in the garden near the pond, it fell into the pond and sank into deep waters.

The princess sat next to the pond and started to cry. Suddenly she heard the voice “Ribbit! My beautiful princess, why are you crying. Ribbit!”. She looked around and saw a frog. Then the princess told the frog about her missing ball.

The frog came next to her feet and made an offer, “Maybe I will bring back the ball, but in return, I will need you to do me a favor.” She asked, “What’s the favor?”. The frog said, “If you accept me as your friend and allow me to live with you in your castle, I will get your ball back.” The princess thought about it and accepted the offer. So, the frog jumped into the water, brought the golden ball, and threw it to the princess.

The princess took the ball and started to walk back to the castle. The frog asked about its promise. “How can an ugly frog like you even imagine living with a beautiful princess like me?”

In the Night, the princess sat down at the dinner table with The King and The Queen. When they were about to eat, the maid told them that a frog had arrived and told them that he was invited by the princess and asked permission to come in. The princess told everything that happened to the King. The king said that she should keep her promise and ordered the maid to welcome the frog inside.

The frog came and sat next to the princess’s plate and started to eat from her plate.

After dinner, the frog followed the princess to her bedroom and demanded to sleep next to her in the bed. Afraid to upset her father, the princess had to say yes. The frog jumped to the bed and slept next to the princess.

The next morning, the frog woke the princess up and said he had another wish: If she did it, he would leave her. The princess was happy and asked what the wish was. The frog said,” I want you to kiss me, my princess.” The princess was shocked. Then she thought it was just a kiss, and evidently, she wouldn’t see him ever again, and so she gave him a kiss.

As soon as she kissed the frog, a bright white light covered the room. A while later, she saw a handsome prince standing in front of her.

She couldn’t believe her eyes, and so she asked, “Who are you? What happened to the frog?” The prince said, “My beautiful princess, I am the prince of a land far away. The evil witch cast a spell on me and turned me into a frog. To break the spell, I have to spend one night next to a princess and get a kiss from her.”

They both went to the king and explained everything. The prince asked the princess to marry her, and they got married and lived happily ever after.


So you see that in the original translation, there isn’t even a kiss involved. The frog is thrown against a wall. Then, it was three nights of pillow talk before we finally get to the kiss version. Most references blame credit Disney for the “Kiss” version. It is interesting how folk tales evolve over the years.

To read why we named our boat “Kissed Some Frogs,” check out this blog post, “Kissed Some Frogs, (What’s In A Name).”


Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda