Pretzels & Armored Cow, Battery Acid, Dog Food, Jelly Doughnut (food slang)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Fri Nov 29 05:28:17 UTC 2002


   From the clippings files in Temple University is this letter:

      A. R. Hofheinz
      8330 Cottage Street
      Phila. 36, Penna.
Mr. Theo Wilson
Bulletin Staff

Dear Sir:
   I have just read your very interesting article about the 90th Brithday of
the Pretzel.  I thought you might be interested to know that the first
pretzel baked in Philadelphia was in 1837 by a man named Frederick Trefz at
703-705 New Market Street, in the Northern Liberties.  "Old TImers" will, no
doubt, remember that Bakery.  I, myself, worked there from 1897 to 1900, for
the successor to Mr. Trefz, whose name was Philip Becker.  He took the bakery
over in 1850.  He told me several times that the said Mr. Trefz baked both
soft and hard (or cracker pretzels) pretzels from the beginning.
   I also know that soft and hard petzels were baked in Reading in the 1850's
by two men named Mayer.
   Originally pretzels were baked in the Southwestern part of Germany.
   I trust this little information may be of some interest to you.

      Yours truly,
      A. R. Hofheinz



   Not in the RHHDAS.  From the clippings files in Temple University,

_Zoomies and Grunts Create_
_New GI Jargon in Vietnam_
   Saigon, Jan. 7--(AP)--(...)
   Red Cross recreation girls are "doughnut dollies."  The chief doughnut
dolly at the 1st Infantry Division is "doughnut six" and her assistants have
numbers from five to one.  One slim girl is "doughnut one-half."  A
red-haired girl is "jelly doughnut."



   From the Temple University clippings files.  The RHHDAS has 1945 for dog
food ("food, esp. canned corned-beef hash, thought to resemble dog food").
   From the (PHILADELPHIA) POST, 28 November 1940:

By The Associated Press
   _Dog Food_--Emergency rations, to be eaten "only after you've starved to
death," cynics insist.



   I used the LOC California newspaper index.
   From the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 15 June 1941, pg. 5, col. 4:

_Army Camps_
_Developing a_
   "Snafu" means "situation normal, all fuddled up."
   "Red Lead" is tomatoes, tomato sauce or ketchup.
   Cream and sugar or salt and pepper are "sidearms."  Salt, alone, is
   Spinach is "seaweed."



   From the LOC's California newspaper index, under "slang."  This excellent
long article will have to be reprinted in full.  It beats the RHHDAS by a few
months on "armored cow," but it has a lot more.

   1 June 1941, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, pg. H5, col. 7:
   The draftees assigned to Camp Claiborne, in Louisiana, got out a glossary
of slang terms to describe everyday things in army life, we read the other
day in a United Press story.
   No doubt, the boys at Fort Ord and Camp McQuaide, in our State, know what
the Louisiana lads are talking aoubt when they call canned milk an "armored
cow," and the white fish a "sewer trout," but civilians are puzzled by the
lingo without the aid of a dictionary of vulgarisms.
   The Louisiana lads call prunes "army strawberries"; chicken, "crow";
coffee, "battery acid"; hot cereals, "North Dakota rice"; foot inspection, a
"kennel show"; insects, "motorized dandruff"; steel helmets, "Mae West
bonnets," and machine guns, "Chicago atomizers."
   There may be regional variation in army slang, but all of it is good
(illegible--ed.) American tongue, but as the soldier talk in the last World
war vitalized the language,  In California, for instance, salmon or bass is
served to soldiers instead of whitefish common to the Midwest and the South,
but we are sure the boys call it "sewer trout," as they do at Camp Claiborne.
   We don't know how sedate public speakers could open their mouths if it
were not for the inventiveness of the younger generation in coining phrases.
The draftees are all of the athletic age, and much of their breezy language
is borrowed from the sports field.
   You bald-headed Congressman has to desert classic rhetoric and resort to
sports language to put over his point when running for re-election.  It's all
well and good to flatter the intelligence of the electorate with
Shakespearean quotations, but when it comes down to brass tacks the most
polished orator will lapse into "saved by the bell," "below the belt," "out
of bounds," "punch drunk," "goal-line stand," "stymied," "foul ball" and
other expressions borrowed from sports, that his listeners understand him
   Unless it be army life, no other activity on the American scene is a
greater contributor to the elasticity of the mother tongue than sport.
Sports has a jargon all its own, but eventually the esoteric expressions
creep into the vocabulary of the average citizen and are accepted by the
solemn compilers of the Oxford Dictionary.
   Baseball and boxing, professional sports though they be, have a
down-to-earth saltiness that is causing the stiff Anglo-Saxon to change so
violently that H. L. Mencken's epic tome in the American Language, considered
new when it was printed, is out of  date and needs revision.
   Whenever yuou speak of "on the button" you are leaning on a prize-fight
term.  Whenever you say "just under the wire" you are borrowing from horse
racing.  Whenever you say "dubbed" in the sense of gumming up the works you
are relying upon golf, and whenever you ask for "time out" to gather your
thoughts you are sponging on basketball and football.
   Whenever you "warm up" for a "rally" you are doing what the tennis players
do.  Whenever you cheat a little and "beat the gun" you are commiting a sin
sometimes done in track and field.
   Of all sports, we think that baseball has the most quaint and richest
expressions.  The young men at Camp Claiborner must have been bush baseball
players in their civilian days, otherwise we cannot account for the sprightly
imagination that provoked them to call army coffee "battery acid."
   The Readers' Digest, a condensed magazine which gives a page or two every
month to cute expressions by Chistopher Morley, Somerset Maugham, Dorothy
Parker and SInclair Lewis, ought to turn its attention to the way unlettered
ball players say things.
   In the ball players' lingo, a "banana stalk" is a bat with poor wood; a
"barber" is a talkative teammate; a "contractor's back yard" is a rough
field; a "boxcar town" is a jerkwater visited for an echibition; a "can of c
orn" is a high, lazy fly; a "cigar box" is a small field' a "collision" is a
college player; a "country fair" is a showoff (Hot Dog?--ed.);  a "cup of
coffee" is a short trial in the big leagues; a "Dick Smith" is a fellow who
keeps to himself; an "eagle's claw" is a glove; a "clothesline" is a line
drive through the infield; a "fireman" is a player who dresses fast (Not a
relief pitcher?--ed);
a "Gillette" is a ball thrown close to a batter's head; a "house dick" is a
player who lives in the lobby; a "fishing trip" is swinging at an outside
pitch; a "gulley jumper" is a train; a "mackerel" is a curve ball; "fish
cakes" is low salary; a "Rubinoff" is a player who needs a haircut; a "Tissue
Paper Tom" is an athlete easily hurt; "Tools of Ignorance" are the catcher's
equipment; a "butterlfy" is a knuckle ball; a "Broadway" is a flashy dresser;
a "cockeye" is a left-handed pitcher; a "cunnythumb" is a p[itcher who throws
slow balls; a "drink" is a strikeout; a "pool table" is a smooth inflield,
the opposite of a "contractor's back yard"; a "Yankee Doodle" is a weak
hitter; a "yodeler" is a baseline coach; a "monkey suit" is a uniform; a
"rabbit ears" is a player who hears everything said in the stands; a "Black
Betsy" is a big dark-colored bat; a "Texas Leaguer" is the same as a "Sheeny
Mike" or a "Japanese liner" or a "Leaping Lena" or a "blooper" or a
"humpback" or a "banjo" meaning a cheap fly just beyond reach of the
   We could go on for four or five more paragraphs to pad this essay to a
Sunday length with baseball terminology, but we think you get the idea.
   Not every ball player is literate in the academic sense, but all of them
are articulate in that they think up the most charming was to convey ideas.
Unconsciously, they are making the American language more graphic, just like
the selectees at Camp Claiborne, who spoof condensed milk as "armored cow."
   Inelegant, but descriptive.

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