Where does sugar daddy come from?
There are two ingredients to sugar daddy. The first is sugar, slang for "money" and "expensive gifts" reaching back to the 19th century. The sweet stuff, apparently. The second is daddy, a colloquial term for a man of some age—and power—also found in the 19th century.
Put 'em together and you get the sugar daddy, that species of older man looking for sexual gratification in a younger partner, which he achieves through his wealth and influence. The term is evidenced as early as 1917.
It's not a relationship built on love, exactly. The sugar daddy, no longer at his peak, gets the thrill of youth and beauty from this exchange. The sugar baby, as the younger counterpart is sometimes called, gets gifts, trips, play money, and a plush lifestyle. But the affair, dubbed sugar dating in the 2010s, is considered consensual.
Since the early 1900s, sugar daddy has spread. For one thing, we've extended the term to metaphorical sugar daddies, like big businesses that spend heavily on pet projects.
We've explored the phenomenon in popular culture, from Fleetwood Mac's 1975 "Sugar Daddy" to the 2014 film Sugar Daddies.
And, we've labeled plenty of real-life relationships with sugar daddy, including Playboy's Hugh Hefner, actor Charlie Sheen, and Donald Trump. The implication is that, if it weren't for their money, these sugar daddies would not have the women they do.
The 2000s have taken sugar daddy to the next level. There's a conference called the Sugar Baby Summit delivered by SeekingArrangement, a service "where Sugar Babies enjoy a life of luxury by being pampered with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances. In turn, Sugar Daddies or Mommas find beautiful members to accompany them at all times."
Who uses sugar daddy?
One the one hand, sugar daddy can imply the younger part in the relationship is a prostitute or gold-digger.
On the other hand, some fantasize about finding themselves a sugar daddy so they can quit that 9–5, exchanging kisses for karats.
As noted, the younger partner is the sugar baby ...
Does any cute sugarbaby need new clothes or make up?? Ready to spoil you today so please let me know asap! 😋💸💸💰💰 #sugardaddy
— DADDY 💖 (@SugarGiftDaddy) June 16, 2018
... and sugar momma (or mama) is the sugar daddy's female counterpart. Unlike the sugar daddy, she's generally seen as attractive—a MILF or cougar, and her younger man may be the boy toy.
Just won $25 on a scratch ticket if anyone’s looking for a sugar mama
— amanda (@amanda_c_rae) June 9, 2018
where’s my sugar daddy at / I’m tired of working
@emtobias_, June, 2018
I also knew, based on a story my colleague Tanza Loudenback had published on sugar daddies who help sugar babies with their college tuition, that the lifestyle wasn't all about multi-thousand-dollar Chanel bags and trips to Tahiti.
Shana Lebowitz, Business Insider, June, 2018
There's a specific image that tends to spring to mind upon any mention of the term "sugar daddy" — and, for many people, it entails some version of a gray-haired Lothario leering over a fresh-faced woman who could be his daughter.
Sara Hendricks, Insider, June, 2018