Lynn Loesser explained to radio host Ezio Petersen the genesis of this song, “This was written before Guys and Dolls was even thought of. It had come about because I had read a book from Truman Capote called Other Voices, Other Rooms, a collection of short stories that came out as he was just breaking on the literary scene. I insisted that Frank read it. I was getting ready for bed one evening and Frank came tearing upstairs hollering, 'You’ve got to come down, I’ve just found something.' So I went down to the piano and he’d found a passage in Capote’s book that quoted an old nursery rhyme that went, 'I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.' He quickly wrote the whole song based on that line.
After he’d written it I asked him if maybe he should talk to Capote and ask if it was alright to use the line. Frank brushed it off as being obviously in the public domain since it was quoted as a nursery rhyme or saying. When Guys and Dolls came along, Frank pulled it out of the trunk and that was that.
I met Capote a year or so later and he said he’d almost sued Frank but decided at the last minute that it wasn’t worth it.”