Question: Where did the saying “not worth a hill of beans” come from?
Answer: Beans, being fairly easy to grow, are commonly used in everyday expressions to indicate something of little value. Consequently, someone who isn’t worth a hill of beans is seen as being worth very little, although one could argue that today a hill of beans costs a pretty penny.
An older saying, “not worth a bean,” appeared as far back as 1297, when historian Robert of Gloucester wrote it in his English Chronicles. The American saying, “not worth a hill of beans,” began to appear around 1863; “a hill of” was often inserted into phrases to emphasize their meaning.