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Lunch Counter Lingo

The following terms are just a sampling of Lunch Counter Lingo, excluding soda fountain lingo, from The Dictionary of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Hearst Books), used with permission.

Lunch Counter Lingo Glossary
Adam and Eve on a raft Two poached eggs on toast.
Adam's ale Plain water.
axle grease or skid grease Butter.
baby, moo juice, Sweet Alice or cow juice Milk.
belch water Seltzer or soda water.
birdseed Cereal.
blue-plate special A dish of meat, potato, and vegetable served on a plate (usually blue) sectioned in three parts.
Bossy in a bowl Beef stew, so called because "Bossy" was a common name for a cow.
bowl of red A bowl of chili con carne, so called for its deep red color.
bowwow A hot dog.
breath An onion.
bridge or bridge party Four of anything, so called from the card-game hand of bridge.
bullets Also called "whistleberries" or "Saturday nights." Baked beans, so called because of the supposed flatulence they cause.
bun pup A hot dog.
burn one Put a hamburger on the grill.
burn the British A toasted English muffin.
cat s eyes or fish eyes Tapioca.
China Rice pudding.
chopper A table knife.
city juice Water.
clean up the kitchen Hash or hamburger.
Coney Island chicken or Coney Island A hot dog, so called because hot dogs were popularly associated with the Coney Island stands at which they were sold.
cowboy A western omelet or sandwich.
cow feed A salad
creep Draft beer.
crowd Three of anything (possibly from the old saying, "Two's company, three's a crowd").
deadeye Poached egg.
dog and maggot Cracker and cheese.
dog biscuit Cracker.
dog's body A pudding of pea soup and flour or hardtack.
dough well done with cow to cover Buttered toast.
draw one Coffee.
eighty-six (86) "Do not sell to that customer" or "The kitchen is out of the item ordered." Perhaps from the practice at Chumley's Restaurant in New York City of throwing rowdy customers out the back door, which is No. 86 Bedford Street. The term certainly predates its first appearance in print circa 1967.
Eve with a lid on Apple pie, referring to the biblical Eve's tempting apple and to the crust that covers it.
fifty-five A glass of root beer.
first lady Spareribs, a pun on Eve's being made from Adam's spare rib.
fly cake or roach cake A raisin cake or huckleberry pie.
Frenchman's delight Pea soup.
GAC Grilled American cheese sandwich. This was also called "jack" (from the pronunciation of "GAC"); a "Jack Benny" (after a radio comedian) was cheese with bacon.
gentleman will take a chance Hash.
go for a walk An order to be packed and taken out.
gravel train Sugar bowl.
graveyard stew Milk toast.
groundhog Hot dog.
hemorrhage Ketchup.
high and dry A plain sandwich without butter, mayonnaise, or lettuce.
houseboat A banana split, made with ice cream and sliced bananas.
in the alley Serve as a side dish.
Irish turkey Corned beef and cabbage.
java or joe Coffee.
Iooseners Prunes, so called because of their supposed laxative effect.
Iumber A toothpick.
maiden's delight Cherries, so called because "cherry" is a slang term for the maidenhead.
Mike and Ike or the twins Salt and pepper shakers.
Mud or Omurk Black coffee.
Murphy Potatoes, so called because of their association with the Irish diet of potatoes, Murphy being a common Irish name.
Noah's boy A slice of ham, because Ham was Noah's second son.
no cow Without milk.
on the hoof Meat done rare.
on wheels An order to be packed and taken out.
pair of drawers Two cups of coffee.
Pittsburgh Toast or something burning, so called because of the smokestacks evident in Pittsburgh, a coal-producing and steel-mill city. In meat cookery, this refers to a piece of meat charred on the outside while still red within .
put out the lights and cry Liver and onions.
radio A tuna-fish-salad sandwich on toast punning on "tuna down," which sounds like "turn it down," as one would the radio knob.
sand Sugar.
sea dust Salt.
sinkers and suds Doughnuts and coffee.
Vermont Maple syrup, because maple syrup comes primarily from Vermont.
warts Olives.
wreath Cabbage.
wreck 'em Scramble the eggs.
yum-yum Sugar.
zeppelins in a fog Sausages in mashed potatoes.

•  Lunch Counter Lingo Information and Background

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