Atlanta food slang articles (6-8-1947; 2-19-1961)
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Fri Jan 19 16:49:22 UTC 2007
I copied these articles at the Atlanta Public Library (there is a
hand-written index to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution) during my unexpected stay
in that city.
8 June 1947, Atlanta Journal Magazine, pg. 12, cols. 2-4:
_"A HAM SANDWICH WALKING"_
By Mary Lane
"ONE in the sun-n-n-n!"
In soda jerker jargon, that's basic English for ONE LEMONADE.
Or maybe you're up on your drugstore slanguage.
Time was when the patter of table hoppers was an unknown tongue to me. A
glass of lemonade was a glass of lemonade.
Now I know that only the dull and prosaic public uses such bromides. That
gay and gallant company of teen-agers who "catch" tables specialize in the
picturesque figures of speech that leave their customers agape.
When the boarding houses in Waycross, Ga., quit serving meals because of
food shortages, it was life's darkest moment fir me...so I thought. Wearily I
joined the throng of BLUE-PLATE-SPECIAL addicts who trek to town come mealtime.
Little did I dream that a bright new life was beginning for me and a NEW
Now after a year of sitting on three-legged chairs and pondering over menu
cards three times a day, I pride myself on being bilingual. I can speak
textbook English when the occasion demands and can converse in the short-order
"One in the sun and HOLD THE HAIL!" sings out the pretty red-head who hops
tables after school.
"No lemons!" yells back the whiteclad soda boy behind the marble font. "How
about ONE IN THE SHADE?"
Just why these dispensers of soft drinks should deny the unsulled limeade
the benefits of the ultra-violet ray is beyond me--even after a year of
concentration upon the matter.
"Maybe the lemon's SUNKIST and the lime ain't!" was the succinct explanation
of one youth I ventured to quiz.
PEOPLE grin when they hear such gay absurdities as "A TWIST" for orangeade
and "A HUG" and "A SQUEEZE" for unassuming orange juice. But somehow I've
noticed that drinks have a more piquant flavor, all dressed up in their new names.
Table hoppers take a huge delight in their witty repartee. They give out
with "ONE OFF THE VINE!" loud enough to raise the dead when "one grape juice!"
softly spoken would get the same result--as far as filling the order goes. They
love to bear down on "HEAVY ON THE HAIL!" And why not? It is clever--much
more so than the commonplace "plenty of ice" would be.
To the simple layman, "ONE SHORT AND SWEET" isn't such a far cry from the
insipid "one glass of sweet milk," but "STRETCH ONE SHORT AND SWEET" becomes a
little complicated. My favorite waitress got confidential one day and revealed
the hidden meaning of STRETCHED. Translated into textbook lingo it's ONE
"SHOOT ONE!" and "A SHOT!" are mumbo-jumbo, too, unless you are in the know
about drugstore patter. They are synonymous with the pause that refreshes, but
sound more like lines from a gangster thriller.
"A JERSEY BOUNCE!" is an ice cream soda to be called for..."A STICK" is an
ice cream cone..."ONE IN THE JUG" is a bottled soft drink..."A (Col. 3--ed.)
BLACK MILK HOT" is a hot chocolate milk..."ONE OFF THE VINE SHADED" is a grape
juice WITH LIME.
"ONE IN A BLACKOUT" must have been born in the war, when coffee without
cream was not uncommon..."A CUP OF MUD" could easily have evolved during the same
troublous times of rationing.
"BER STIR" is the $64 question. All my sleuthing yielded me exactly nothing
about the origin of this bit of nonsense. Even the spelling is a moot matter.
Some soda jerkers insist it's "BUR;" others hold out for "BER." Either is
unintelligible to the uninitiated. As a rhythmical short-cut for "ONE CHOCOLATE
MILK WITH THE ICE CREAM STIRRED" 'twill serve, though.
EVEN WATER takes on something mysterious and exciting under its secret code
numbers. It might be a magic elixir, for all the unenlightened public knows.
Cries of "41" and "81" fill the air a thousand times a day, for "41" is the
call number for one small glass of water, and "81" is the vocal signal for a
large glass. But what baffles me is the lack of logic here. Twice 41 is 82,
according to my limited knowledge of arithmetic. No one has yet deciphered this
cryptogram for me. The table hops, mind you, are quite nonchalant about this
After a year of dining on plate (Col. 4--ed.) lunches with drink included, I
can interpret such oddities of expression as "ONE IN THE ALLEY" as a chicken
dinner. I know that "BUTCHER ONE--SPREAD IT WITH YELLOW" is not quite so
brutal as it sounds, it's merely picturesque usage fore the lowly hot dog smeared
with the inevitable mustard...I can keep a poker face when the cry goes up
for "ONE ON A RAFT WITH A LADY" for the plebian hamburger with onions...I can
even register only a mild amount of surprise over "A HAM SANDWICH WALKING,"
knowing full well that the sandwich is to be carried out in a paper bag.
The first time I saw "BLACK-AND-GOLD" salad on the menu I was intrigued. The
phrase was strongly reminiscent of my high school colors, so I ordered it in
a haze of memories of by-gone days. When PEACH-AND-RAISIN salad arrived on
the 35-cent plate lunch, the mystery was solved--and my dreams vanished.
PICKLED SPINCH was another menu item that spelled adventure for me. I felt
that any camouflage would be a boon for this muchly heralded vitamin carrier.
When a fellow diner launched out and ordered hamburger with spaghetti one
day, the chubby little waitress gave one clarion call: "ONE YOYO WITH PLENTY OF
Then I knew that I had heard EVERYTHING.
19 February 1941, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, pg. 2E, cols. 4-6:
_Menus Awe Eater;_
_They Sling Slang_
By Yolande Gwin
An ice cream soda vanilla with chocolate ice cream is, in soda slang,
"Alaska With a Storm Brewing!"
But you don't want an ice cream soda? You want a bowl of soup, some milk
toast, a soft drink and some coffee. Can you sit there calm and composed when
the clerk yells to an assistant, "Ready with a 97, graveyard stew, shot in the
arm and a blackout!"
There are many variations in the counter codes.
Water is water at some places but in others it is called "Chattahoochee
A sandwich without a drink is a "spot"; Buttermilk is a "thick" and a well
known ale is called "Home town."
Nearly everybody knows that any food or drink carried out from a counter is
called "seaboard" but at some places it is called "hook one" or "walking."
"HOLD THE HAIL" means a drink without ice, while vanilla ice cream with
fudge sauce is "vanilla painted."
Hot chocolate with whipped cream is a steamboat, and a plain hot dog is a
Coffee is "mud" at one place while at another it is called "joree." One
order with cream is called "draw one, Boston."
Tea, the iced variety, is (Col. 6--ed.) "picnic water" while the hot is
Chewing gum used to be called Will Rogers and now many call it ""Gone Man."
A ham sandwich with lettuce and tomato is "one glorified."
Those small packages of peanut butter crackers are called "round or square
nut." An ice cream cone to take out is called "a snow capped pyramid seaboard."
And it's a brave customer who will order in English and then turn a deaf ear
to a "blackout," a "rabbit's heaven" and "an insult with a beard." it is
merely and order for a cup of coffee, a green salad and a lemon pie.
Just don't order heavenly hash for a main dish. It's gooey candy. Nor
suggest to your date that "stuffed monkeys" might be good for "something different"
as a meat course. It's a real fattening pastry that is very popular in
Australia, in case you ever get down that way.
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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