“Hey Mabel” effect
(hay MAY.bul uh.fekt) n. Feelings of surprise, shock, and delight caused by certain situations, scenes, or news.

Example Citation:
"With hundreds of carnivalesque pages, these catalogues score high on what television programmers term the 'Hey Mabel' effect—'Hey Mabel, you can use Liquid-Plumr and Tylenol to build a bomb!' "
—Albert Mobilio, "The Criminal Within," Harper's Magazine, March 1, 1999

Earliest Citation:
One of Mr. Dunn's early ideas resulted in "The Strippers," the newspaper's front-page article on a Sunday last month. The News had bought a 1985 Honda, parked it on a New York City street, and had its photographers watch. By the fourth day of the vigil, car strippers had reduced it to a bucket of bolts that was a "curbside blight and barely resembling a vehicle.

That, Mr. Dunn said, was the kind of "hey, Mabel" article (as in "Hey, Mabel, look at this!") that The News must present.
—William Glaberson, "Daily News Is Turning a Gamble Into a Rebirth," The New York Times, November 1, 1993

The phrase "Hey Mabel" is most often used as an adjective — for example, a "Hey Mabel" story — where it describes something sensational or controversial that people will want to point out to others. (A variation is "Hey Martha.")

Related Words: