Whistleberries and hounds, a pair!

If you’ve ever heard that hollered by an overworked server to a harried cook at your local greasy spoon, you might have just ordered a pair of franks with baked beans.

beans-and-franks

Welcome to my stream of consciousness morning.

A recent article at the Sydney Morning Herald provided a fascinating insight into coded language used by healthcare professionals, flight attendants, butchers, and others. (For example, COPD can not only stand for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, but also “Chronic Old Person’s Disease.”) The article is a fascinating read.

That led me to think of diner slang, a subject lovingly researched by John Clarke, the husband of a dear friend of mine whom I knew for over 60 years and who recently left this world (far too soon, I might add.) I’m not sure where his research is at the moment, but I know John has dedicated a good bit of time to exploring the ins and outs of this fine art of colorful communication.

I reproduce below, entirely without permission and acknowledging copyright ©2003 by John Clarke, a diner slang quiz which appeared in the Spring 2003 edition of Gastronomica, the Journal of Food and Culture, but which deserves much wider appreciation. Answers below: Don’t peek!

America’s original quick-bite places – the main-street soda fountain, the corner lunchionette, and the roadside diner – shared a special, often secret, culture of language. During the Golden Age of slinging slang from 1925 to 1945, waitstaff and kitchen workers communicated in colorful shorthand.

How good is your slang? See if you can match the twelve sassy term in Column A with the classic American home-style desserts in Column B.

Bonus Question: “Give me Eve with the roof on, a crow slab covered in spla, maiden and tar, plus a stretch with frost and sissy sticks!” What’s being ordered?

1. Ant Paste A. Apple pie
2. Bellyache B. Chocolate pudding
3. Chinese wedding cake C. Custard pie
4. Gold fish D. Cruller
5. House boat E. Banana Split
6. Matrimony knot F. Fudge
7. Magoo G. Bowl of strawberry gelatin
8. Ploughed field H. Ice cream sundae
9. Shivering Liz in the hay I. Sliced peaches
10. Slab of sin J. Rice pudding
11. Snow White on a stick K. Turnover
12. Windbag L. Vanilla ice cream cone

Answers:

1-B, 2-H. 3-J, 4-I, 5-E, 6-D, 7-C, 8-F. 9-G, 10-A, 11-L, 12-K

Bonus Question: Apple pie with a top crust, chocolate pie covered with whipped cream, cherry pie and a mug of coffee, and a large Coke™ with crushed ice and two straws!

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet which rarely forgets, here’s a list of diner slang assembled by Dave Hutchins over at Discuss Cooking – the list has been alphabetized and edited a bit for clarity:

A blond with sand: Coffee with cream and sugar
An MD: Dr Pepper
A spot with a twist: Cup of tea with lemon
Adam & Eve on a raft: Two poached eggs on toast
And cinnamon: Dropped in a bowl of milk
Angel: Sandwich man
Baled hay: Shredded wheat
Balloon juice: Seltzer or soda water
Belch water: Alka Seltzer
Billiard: Buttermilk
Bird seed: Breakfast
Black and white: Chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream
Blood hounds in the hay: Hot dogs and sauerkraut
Blow out patches: Pancakes
Blue plate special: a dish of meat, potato, vegetable also daily special
Boiled leaves: Tea
Bossy in a bowl: Beef stew
Bow Wow, Ground hog: A hot dog
Bowl of Red: Chili con carne
Break it and shake it: Add egg to a drink
Breath: Onion
Bridge Party: Four of any thing (from the bridge game)
Bubble dancer: Dish washer
Bullets or whistleberries: Baked beans (because of supposed flatulence)
Burn one: Fry a hamburger
Burn one, take it through the garden: Hamburger with lettuce tomato, onion
Burn the British: Toasted English muffin
Cackle fruit: Eggs
Canned cow: Evaporated milk
Chopper: Table knife
CJ: Boston Cream cheese and Jelly
Cowboy or western: A western omelet or sandwich
Cow paste, Skid grease, Axle grease: Butter
Creep: Draft beer
Crowd: Three of any thing (as in, “Two is company three is a crowd”)
Customer will take a chance: Hash
Dead eye: Poached eggs
Dough well done with cow: Buttered toast
Drag one through Georgia: Cola with Chocolate syrup
Draw one in the dark: A Black coffee
Draw one or a cup of mud: Cup of coffee
Eighty Six: The kitchen is out of the item ordered
Fifty-five: A glass of root beer
Flop two fry:  Two eggs any style
Frenchman’s delight: Pea soup
Frog sticks: French Fries
Fry two, let the sun shine: 2 eggs with unbroken yolks
GAC: Grilled American cheese sandwich
Gallery: Booth
Go for a walk or on wheels: it’s to go
Grave yard stew: Milk toast buttered toast sprinkled with sugar
Gravel train: Sugar bowl
Hail: Ice
Hemorrhage: Ketchup
High and dry: A plain sandwich with nothing on it
Hockey Puck: A hamburger well done
Hold the hail: No ice
Hot top: Hot Chocolate
Hug one or squeeze one: Orange juice
In the alley: Served as a side dish
Jack Benny: Cheese with bacon )Named after Jack Benny)
Java or Joe: Cup of coffee
Keep off the grass: No Lettuce
Lady Bug: Fountain man
Life preserver: Doughnut
Light House: Ketchup bottle
Looseners: Prunes
Lumber: tooth pick
Machine oil: Syrup
Mike & Ike or the twins: salt & pepper shakers
Million on a platter: Plate of baked beans
Mississippi mud or yellow paint: Mustard
Moo juice, Baby juice, Sweet Alice: Milk
Mystery in the alley: Side order of hash
No cow: without milk
Noah’s boy on bread: Ham sandwich
Noah’s son: Slice of ham (Noah’s second son)
One from the Alps: A Swiss cheese sandwich
Paint it Red: Put ketchup on it
Pair of drawers: two cups of coffee
Pin a rose on it: Add Onion to a order
Put out the lights and cry: Liver and onions
Rabbit food: Lettuce
Radio: Tuna salad sandwich
Sea Dust: Salt
Shake one in the hay: Strawberry milk shake
Shingle with a shimmy and a shake: Buttered toast with jam or jelly
Shoot from the south: Coca Cola™
Smear: Margarine
Soup Jockey: Waitress
Stack or short stack: Order of pancakes
Sun kiss or oh gee: Orange juice
Sweep the kitchen: Hash
Throw it in the mud: Add Chocolate syrup
Two cows, make them cry: two hamburgers with onion
Vermont: Maple syrup
Warts: Olives
Wax: American cheese
Whisky down: rye toast
Whisky: Rye bread
White cow: Vanilla milk shake
Wind mill, Adams ale, city juice, dog soup: A glass of water
Yum yum or sand: Sugar
Zeppelin: Sausage

I got a big kick out of “Put out the lights and cry” – I’m a big fan of liver and onions, but apparently many others are not.

These terms can be very regional and original, so there were likely to be many terms for the same item around the country. A more comprehensive list should be forthcoming when I have the time.

In the meantime, wreck two and make them cry.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

2 responses to “Whistleberries and hounds, a pair!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s