slush-on-a-shingle, slop on a shingle, mud on a shingle, stuff-on-a-shingle

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 26 10:49:27 UTC 2011

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> My high-school Latin teacher told me in the early '60s that his
> impression in 1942 had been that "shit on a shingle" went
> back to WW1.

OED has two citations for "shit on a shingle" in 1939. One is a letter
published in 1989.

OED shit, noun Phrases 9. orig. and chiefly U.S. Mil. shit on a
shingle: a dish of previously cooked meat, typically beef, cut up into
small pieces and served with gravy on toast; (more generally) any
similar type of dish considered to be unappetizing; abbreviated S.O.S.

1939 J. Jones Let. Dec. in To reach Eternity (1989) 4   Shit on a
shingle - is -a rubbery piece of toast covered with a thick gravy
composed of the leavings of yesterday's dinner.

1939 Amer. Speech 14 30/1 Shit on shingles: roast-beef hash on toast.

To try to locate evidence before World War 2 I looked for matches that
used words that might be euphemisms. In 1935 the Plain Dealer
published an article about the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C)
that included the food descriptor: "slush-on-a-shingle". It is
possible that this phrase really was used in 1935. Alternatively, the
author modified "shit on a shingle" to "slush-on-a-shingle" for
newspaper publication.

Cite: 1935 October 13, Cleveland Plain Dealer, I Served in the C.C.C.
by J. Danner, Page 4 [GNB Page 68], Column 7, Cleveland, Ohio.

<Begin excerpt>
Among the common names for items on the menu are: "Fisheyes" (tapioca
pudding), "slush-on-a-shingle" (creamed dried beef on toast),
"blanched worms" (spaghetti or macaroni), "dishwater" (coffee). A
"wolf" is a person who is always first in mess line, and last to leave
the mess hall;
<End excerpt>

In Time magazine in 1944 a letter writer signals that a euphemism is
being used by saying "roughly translated". He uses "slop on a
shingle". I include this to illustrate the deliberate modification of
the phrase for publication (though it is late compared to other

Cite: 1944 November 13, Time magazine, Letters, Time, Inc. New York.
(Accessed via online database),8816,801523,00.html

<Begin excerpt>
We do have some expressions and a few adjectives, adverbs and
participles perhaps unfamiliar. Hash on toast is, roughly translated,
slop on a shingle. Telling a tall story is snowing. ...
(T SGT.) JOHN B. WHITE c/o Fleet P.O. San Francisco
<End excerpt>

I also found instances of "mud on a shingle" (1941) and
"stuff-on-a-shingle" (maybe 1945).

The American Dialect Society -

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