"Sinkers" and "Dunking Doughnuts"

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Thu Jun 15 00:49:53 UTC 2006

Barry must have presented his " sinker" information to ads-l earlier.  I have it compiled in an article that will appear in a forthcoming volume on slang that we are co-authoring (the manuscript is completed).  Here's a summary of what we have on "sinker" as part of a compiled glossary on hashhouse lingo. (Btw, the e-mail will distort the layout):

sinker -- doughnut. (1888): 'Heavy weights and sinkers meant    doughnuts'. Also: 'Or they can get a cup of coffee and some cakes for ten cents.  The facetious patrons of the restaurant call these cakes "sinkers," because if they were thrown overboard     they wouldn't float.' (1888)    sinker -- usually a doughnut, but here (pejoratively): butter   cakes. -- '"Off the griddle" means butter cakes, those deadly   bullets or, rather, small cannon balls of dough, which are commonly known to the hardy eaters thereof as "sinkers," but         which it is high treason to call by that name within the lunch  room.' (1902: 16)       sinker -- doughnut (1897; 1922)         sinker -- '... but crullers have lost their family name.  A     doughnut is a "sinker," a contorted cruller is a "pretzel,"...'         (1929: 6, col. 2)

Gerald Cohen
> ----------
> From:         American Dialect Society on behalf of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent:         Wednesday, June 14, 2006 3:59 PM
> Subject:           Re: "Sinkers" and "Dunking Doughnuts"
> Barry scoops all others once again. My unambiguous evidence for "sinker" (doughnut) seems to go back only to the mid ' 90s:
>   1895 E. W. Townsend _"Chimmie Fadden," Major Max and Other Stories_ 195 : It was ravenously interested in teh greasy doughnut Pinkey still carried...."An' if youse have whaled der purp for eatin' de sinker, I'll put de cop on to yer fake legs."
>   This is from N.Y. (note singular...aw, fuhgehdabouddit ! ).
>   Cites for "sinker," meaning everything from a biscuit to a dumpling to a flapjack, go back as far as the Civil War, but the now-classic "ring doughnut" sense may not have become common till years later.
>   Muddying the coffee somewhat is the fact (which I may have mentioned here before) that my grandmother was sure that a "doughnut" in  1890's Gotham meant a solid sort of fried cake, often with a filled center (a "jelly-doughnut" thing), the ring-shaped confection being called a "cruller," at least in her experience.
>   OED has "dunk" only as far back as 1919.  It seems never to have made _Centuty_ or its 1909 Supplement.
>   JL

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