"blue plate special"

Sun Sep 22 21:23:28 UTC 2002

There's an advertisement including the term _blue plate dinner_ from
1922 in NYT.  It reads in part:

... Table d'Hote Dinner $2 no cover charge/
75c & $1 Blue Plate Dinners ...

[New York Times, 10/25/1922, p 23]

David Barnhart, Editor/Publisher
The Barnhart Dictionary Companion
Lexik at highlands.com

gcohen at UMR.EDU,Net writes:
>    Here is reference material for "blue plate": Barry Popik and
>Gerald Cohen: "Material For The Study of Hash-House Lingo." _Comments
>on Etymology_, vol. 31, no. 7, April 2002, pp. 2-28. On pp. 9-11 we
>present the article "Quick Lunchplaces Have Own Vernacular," from
>_The Restaurant Man_, January 1929,
>  p. 50, col. 3. This article (as well as all others mentioned in the
>CoE issue) was spotted by Barry Popik); afterwards we add a glossary
>of the terms used in the _Restaurant Man_ item.
>    Two main conclusions emerge from this treatment.  Barry antedated
>"blue plate" to 1929 (from OED's 1945; but Fred Shapiro in his recent
>ads-l posting pushes the first date back to 1926. And "blue plate"
>may derive from humble origins in hash house slang:
>     Here now is the glossary item mentioned above:
>blue plate -- [14] 'A "blue plate" is the label given a special daily
>combination of meat or fish, potatoes and vegetables, sold at a
>special price, and is ordered with the word, "Blue plate."'-- B.
>Popik: This antedates OED2's earliest attestation of 1945; OED2
>        1945 S. LEWIS C. Timberlane (1946) xix. 112 They were taking
>the     *Blue Plate Dinner.
>        1952 AUDEN Nones 27 Having finished the Blue-plate Special
>And     reached the coffee stage.
>        1961 WEBSTER Blue Plate. 1. A restaurant dinner plate divided
>into    compartments for serving several kinds of food as a single
>order. 2. A     main course (as of meat and vegetable) served as a
>single menu item.
>        [B. Popik]: Here are two more 1929 mentions of 'Blue Plate":
>        April 1929, The Restaurant Man, p. 19 photo caption--Blue
>Plate   Restaurant at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
>        April 1929, The Restaurant Man, p. 28, col. 2: '"Blue Plate"
>Wins    Popularity,' by John F. Toedtman
>        'A PLEASING innovation in restaurant service which is meeting
>with    popular approval is the self-serve "Blue Plate Luncheon" each
>noon and        evening at the Y.M.C.A. Cafeteria, Dayton. ...'
>>At 5:24 PM +0100 9/21/02, Michael Quinion wrote:
>>Fred Shapiro's message today was timely, as rather a lot of people
>>have suddenly started to ask me where the phrase comes from (is it in
>>a quiz somewhere this week, or what?).
>>The questions pose some difficulties, because it's astonishing the
>>number of reference books I've consulted today that don't mention it.
>>(And there doesn't seem to be anything about it in the ADS-L archives
>>apart from recent antedatings.)
>>My understanding is that it was an inexpensive set meal, a sort of
>>"plat du jour", served on a blue plate divided into sections for each
>>part of the meal. Roughly (without the blue plate) what was once
>>called a "shilling ordinary" in Britain. Am I right?
>>Any supporting information would be helpful in aiding me to fill a
>>couple of hundred words of deathless prose!
>>Michael Quinion
>>At 10:00 PM -0400 9/20/02, Fred Shapiro wrote:
>>Since Barry is in Shangri-La somewhere, someone has to keep up the
>>antedatings.  The OED, as would not surprise Barry, doesn't do too
>>"blue plate special."  Its first use is dated 1961, but Damon Runyon
>>published a book with that title in 1934.  Still earlier is the
>>from Barry's favorite newspaper:
>>1926 _N.Y. Times_ 27 May 23  (adv't) THE FAMOUS OLD SEA GRILL LOBSTER
>>Fred Shapiro

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