Short-Order Slang: A Glossary of Terms
With heavy hearts (and arteries) yesterday we said goodbye to the Prime Burger, one of the last remaining greasy spoons in Manhattan. While our beloved, 74-year-old burger joint couldn’t be saved, its short-order slang must live on.
Diner lingo is by no means exclusive to the Prime Burger—temperamental waitresses and short-order cooks have employed the lippy jargon since the late 1800s. While at times crass (and mildly racist), there’s something undeniably comforting about a gum-smacking gal named Flo commanding some invisible force in the kitchen to “burn one, black and blue, and drag it through the garden.” (Well-done cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and onion.)
These may come in handy the next time you’re short on the bill...
Adam & Eve on a raft and wreck ’em: two scrambled eggs on toast Angels on horseback: oysters rolled in bacon and served on toast Axle grease/cow paste: butter Baby: glass of milk Birdseed: breakfast Bloodhounds in the hay: hot dogs and sauerkraut Bossy in a bowl: beef stew Break it and shake it: add egg to a drink Bridge party: four of anything Bronx vanilla: garlic Bubble dancer: dishwasher Bucket of cold mud: bowl of chocolate ice cream Check the ice: a hot woman just walked in China: rice pudding Clean up the kitchen: hash Dog soup: water
Foreign entanglements: spaghetti Gentleman will take a chance: plate of hash Hot blonde in sand: coffee with cream and sugar Indiana Jones: customers arriving just before closing time Keep off the grass: no lettuce Let it walk: to go Lighthouse: bottle of ketchup M.D. : Dr Pepper Mother and child reunion: chicken and egg sandwich Mystery in the alley: a side order of hash Nervous pudding: gelatin Noah’s boy: a slice of ham On a rail: make it quick One on the city: a glass of water Shingle with a shimmy and a shake: buttered toast with jam or jelly Sinkers: donuts Splash of red noise: a bowl of tomato soup Wax: American cheese Whiskey: rye bread Why bother: decaffeinated coffee with nonfat milk
Let it walk, —C.B.S.
Mark Powers Smith contributed to this report.