The phrase “This is why we can’t have nice things” shows up in TV, films, and memes. I asked Google where it came from and got some specific examples that are too recent, like Jane Austen’s Mafia! (1998 film) or an early Simpsons episode. But others said that their parents or grandparents had used the phrase at least as long ago as the 1950s.
How far back can we trace the phrase? And what are some of the more iconic examples that have perpetuated it in common usage?