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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 26 12:32:21 UTC 2011

Both "SOS" and "shit-on-shingle" were widely familiar in all the services in

1993-1998 Robert A. Maher & James E. Wise _Sailor's Journey into War_
 (Kent, O,: Kent State U.P., 1998) 75 [ref. to 1943-45]: Another food that
was enjoyed by both the army and the navy was creamed chipped beef on toast.
There has been, and still is, a constant battle about what it was [properly]
called. My army friends say SOS or shit on a shingle. My Navy friends and I
say FSOT, which I won't translate. We did have SOS, but it was ground beef
with brown gravy. Anyway, I liked both of them them then, and I still eat
both today.

HDAS III or IV, whatever, will someday show "SOS" in WWI as "same old stew"
or "stuff," which I suspect was a euphemism.

Just when creamed chipped beef on toast became a standard institutional
dish, I do not know. Ground beef on toast also received the appellation.

HDAS I indirectly explains the mysterious "FSOT" (which is not listed) as
"foreskins on toast." (Ah, the folk imagination!)  HDAS discovered only two
independent published exx., both from the '30s, one from San Quentin. A GB
source attests that the term was in use in the Navy at least into the 1960s.


On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 6:49 AM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      slush-on-a-shingle, slop on a shingle, mud on a shingle,
>              stuff-on-a-shingle
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
> (GenealogyBank)
> <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
> cites).
> Cite: 1944 November 13, Time magazine, Letters, Time, Inc. New York.
> (Accessed via online database)
> <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).
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