[Ads-l] Heard: "bug juice"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Dec 31 14:47:22 UTC 2014

At 12/31/2014 03:01 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

>as the term for an elixir that is drunk at sleep-away camp.

Heard by me circa 1950 at sleep-away camps up the Hudson River and in 
far upper Vermont, and spoken by all including natives of New York Ciity.

>A casual search
>takes it back to 1868 as the name for various kinds of drinks, as a term
>for "bug-spray," as a term for "yeast," and as a term for the "honey-dew"
>exuded by aphids.

No point in trying to identify specific ingredients.  That would be 
like trying to determine what was the origin of your college 
cafeteria's "mystery meat".

Not in OED (which says only "bad whisky"), but in UrbanDictionary, 
"bug juice 2".  The sleep-over-camp comestible came in the same 
vehicle as UrbanDictionary's sense 1:  "A sugary drink mixed in vast 
quantities from a mysterious powder commonly served on US Navy 
vessels in the enlisted men's mess. Can also be used to clean 
brass."  (No, not by ship, but in a powder.)

My recollection is that we consumers a bright, distasteful red color 
was a necessary characteristic in order to apply the term.


>I know it only as old-school slang for "soy sauce," as used by my mother
>and others of her congeries. She must have learned it in St. Louis, Asian
>food being unknown in the black Marshall, Texas, of both her day and my
>day. I used to get my country cousins ROTFLTAO just by naming a couple of
>ordinary dishes, like "egg fu-yong" or "kung-pao shrimp" or even
>"chop-suey." Even in StL, the first Chinese restaurant in the 'hood, Yee's
>Cafe, didn't open till 1950. OTOH, there was the once-stereotypical Chinese
>*laundry* that dated back to who-knows-when.
>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>-Mark Twain
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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