Josh Fruhlinger was morpho-syntactically unhappy about Shoe for 9/21/2011 ("Josh puts the 'long' in 'long-winded'", The Comics Curmudgeon 9/21/2011):
Here’s the thing about jokes of the form “you put the X in Y,” where X represents one or more syllables in Y: the humor only works if the X makes up a part of Y even though the two words are not related semantically. For instance, if your significant other had travelled into orbit as part of the U.S. space program, it would be funny if, after admiring their attractive backside, you said, “Baby, you put the ‘ass’ in ‘astronaut.’” However, if you were dating an Olympic champion, you shouldn’t say, “Baby, you put the ‘win’ in ‘winner,’” as that would sound very, very stupid. “Crank,” in the sense of an eccentric, obsessive person, is actually derived from “cranky,” so the level of wordplay here is pretty disappointing to say the least.
Josh's analysis rings true, although he confesses that
OK, I admit that I launched into that etymological and linguistic lecture entirely because I’m particularly proud of the “you put the ‘ass’ in ‘astronaut’” joke I thought up.
But there's at least one famous source of "put the X in Y" examples, where X and Y are not only "related semantically" but in fact are semantically identical (at least in the sense that both are semantically null) — the 1961 doo-wop song "Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp":
Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
Who put the ram in the ram a lam a ding dong?
Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip?
Of course, there will be some objections to the idea that these phrases have no meaning, starting with this passage from the song itself:
When my baby heard
"bomp bah bah bomp bah bomp bah bomp bah"
every word went right into her heart
The argument is even more strongly supported by the song's ending, which directly challenges the widespread view that music is non-referential:
These examples from the current Google News archive can't compare in eloquence and wit, although they conform to Josh's rule:
Caps still need to put the 'pow' in power play
Put the 'O' in October.
Females Put the “Cheat” in Cheetahs
And as a Simpsons' fan, I'm a bit disappointed in the title of this musical coming soon to New York City, although it again obeys Josh's dictum:
3 Nerds and a Girl productions will present a one-night-only performance of WE PUT THE SPRING IN SPRINGFIELD: THE MUSIC OF THE SIMPSONS, a tribute to the most successful animated show of all time - on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 7PM at the Triad Theatre, 158 West 72nd St. in New York City.