From the Reference Desk: Old Timey Diner Slang

According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004), these were some of the common slang terms used in popular soda fountains and diners in the 1930s and 1940s. Some of these slang words don’t sound that appetizing, but it sure would be fun to order things like cackle berries with squeal nowadays!

Enjoy the slang:

Adam and Eve on a raft: poached eggs on toast
Angels on horseback: oysters rolled in bacon
Axle grease: margarine
Bad breath: onions
Baled hay: __________
Bark: a frankfurter
Belly busters: baked beans
Belly warmer: a cup of coffee
Bilge water: soup
Board: a slice of toast
Bossy in a bowl: beef stew
Break it and shake it: add an egg on the side to drink
Brick: a biscuit
Cackle berries: eggs
Choker: __________
City juice: water
Dogs and maggots: crackers and cheese
Drag one through Georgia: a glass of Coca-Cola with chocolate syrup
First lady: __________
Glue: tapioca pudding
Gold dust: sugar
Hash: food
Hot top: chocolate sauce
Irish cherries: __________
Jamoka: coffee
Looseners: prunes
Lumber: a toothpick
Maiden’s delight: cherries
Mug of murk: a cup of black coffee
Nervous pudding: Jell-O
O’Connors: potatoes
Pause: a glass of Coca-Cola (huh?)
Punk: __________
Radio sandwich: a tuna fish sandwich
Rush it: russian dressing
Salt horse: corned beef
Shimmy: jelly
Sinker: __________
Squeeze: orange juice
Squeal: ham
Take a chance: hash
Twist it, choke it, and make it cackle: a chocolate malted milkshake with an egg (does the
egg go in the milkshake?)
Virgin juice: __________
Wet mystery: beef stew
Yard bird: chicken
Yum-yum: sugar

So, who wants to try and guess what the blank ones mean: baled hay, choker, first lady, Irish cherries, punk, sinker, and virgin juice. You can put your guesses on the Facebook or leave comments below. Answer all correct and you win first prize, which is my undying respect and admiration!

This information comes from:
Smith, Andrew F., ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, vol. 2. Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 442.

The librarian is in. 5¢



  • RNF January 20, 2012 Reply

    coke=pause because it’s ‘the pause that refreshes!’ (used to be their slogan in the 30s and 40s)

    I’m going to guess virgin juice is milk?

  • MJ January 20, 2012 Reply

    baled hay: shredded wheat
    choker: lemon wedge
    first lady: ribs
    Irish cherries: ummmm….mints? honestly, the first thing that came to mind was rocks, but people don’t eat those.
    punk: sausage
    sinker: doughnut
    virgin juice: cherry juice

  • Ashley January 21, 2012 Reply

    Ok, some wild guess here:

    Baled Hay: Shredded Wheat
    Choker: Hot Dog
    First Lady: Strawberry Shortcake
    Irish Cherries: Potatoes
    Punk: Chewing Gum
    Virgin Juice: Cranberry Juice

  • chris January 24, 2012 Reply Author


    baled hay: shredded wheat cereal
    choker: a hamburger
    first lady: ribs
    Irish cherries: carrots
    punk: bread
    sinker: a doughnut
    virgin juice: cherry syrup

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *