Monday, January 16, 2012


ph: frank scherschel

"Radio... whiskey down. Put Tommy on a bed...a honeymoon on a monkey dish."

Translation: Tuna sandwich on rye toast. And a slice of tomato, and some lettuce on the side.
American diner slang, also known as diner or short-order lingo, started as far back as the 1850s and was used by waiters to communicate food orders to the short-order cooks. These days it's a dying jargon, but in its heyday diner slang could be heard in any cheap eatery across the United States, including luncheonettes, cafeterias, diners, or other family style restaurants.

Diner slang wasn't always shortened to expedite a speedier ordering process; some terms were actually longer than the words or phrases they replaced. This was to make them easier to hear and remember during a busy service. Wait staff often shouted out food orders as they pinned up tickets, which could lead to confusion if the cooks misheard them over the noisy crowd, especially for like-sounding foods. Two fried eggs with bacon can sound a lot like two poached eggs with sausage, so the first order becomes 'two dots and a dash' and the second, 'Adam and Eve on a log.' But I'm pretty sure the more witty, tongue-in-cheek, and bawdy slang terms were invented for fun or to lighten the mood in an otherwise hectic and frustrating job. You can find a full list of diner lingo here.

Here are some of my favorite (mostly pie or dessert related, of course) -

A-pie: apple pie
barked pie: fruit cobbler
coney island: hot dog
checkerboard: waffle
coffee regular: coffee with cream and sugar
coke pie: coconut pie
cops & robbers: donuts and coffee
corrugated roof: lemon meringuepie
dagwood special / houseboat: banana split
dusty miller: chocolate pudding sprinkled with powdered malt
eve with a lid on: apple pie ('eve' from the bible and 'lid' refers to the crust)
fish eyes: tapioca pudding
fly cake / fly pie: raisin cake or huckleberry pie
foreign entanglements: spaghetti
georgia pie: peach pie
hot top: hot chocolate
life preservers / sinkers: doughnuts
magoo: custard pie
maiden's delight: cherries
moo/cow juice/baby/sweet alice: milk
nervous pudding: gelatin
put a hat on it: add ice cream
shake one in the hay: strawberry milkshake
sissy, toast B: (CC) cream cheese, toasted bagel
shivering hay: strawberry gelatin
sleigh ride special: vanilla pudding

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