1911, phrase originally in reference to the promises of religion taken from a song written by Joe Hill, "The Preacher and the Slave", a parody of the Salvation Army hymn "In the Sweet By and By". Hill was associated with the Industrial Workers of the World (commonly known as the Wobblies), who organized migrant laborers. When the workers returned to the cities, they faced the Salvation Army.
- You will eat, bye and bye,
- In that glorious land above the sky;
- Work and pray, live on hay,
- You'll get pie in the sky when you die
- A fanciful notion; an unrealistic or ludicrous concept; the illusory promise of a desired outcome that is unlikely to happen.
1959, Sammy Cahn (lyrics), Jimmy Van Heusen (music), “High Hopes” (song), sung by Frank Sinatra and Eddie Hodges, in the film A Hole in the Head: