Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Thu Jun 26 18:03:37 UTC 2008

Recently my wife and I were served what was announced as "strawberry shortcake." It arrived in the form of a shallow cup molded from a sponge-cakey substance (a little like the outside of a Twinkie), with a few berries in the declivity on top and a quantity of whipped cream (probaly fake). I muttered that the pastry was not shortcake--which in my gustatory lexicon should resemble a biscuit with a little sugar added to the dough; after baking, it would be served whole or halved, with berries spooned over it (whipped cream optional).

My wife, from Chicago, opined (folk etymologically) that the cakey pastry in front of us was authentic shortcake--so called because it is less tall than sheetcake or tubecake! Evidently, those "short" cakes of small diameter can be storeboughten, in packaages (my wife maintains) that are labeled "shortcake."

Is there a regional distinction here, or what? Or have gullible consumers simply been lied to?


The American Dialect Society -

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