Corner diner

The Country Corner Diner in Bethany

Compiled by Garrison Leykam, author of Classic Diners of Connecticut

Much like the secret handshake with which associates of a members-only group greet each other and acknowledge their “belonging-ness,” diner slang has evolved from the late 1800s as a form of oral slang used by wait staff to communicate their orders to the short order cook. Similar to visiting a foreign country where English is not spoken, diner lingo is virtually unknown outside the United States. The light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek and even sometimes risqué phrases could be heard in wide use in busy diners during the 1920’s continuing on well into the 1970’s. Diner lingo was never intended for use in speeding up the order-to-table process. Rather, it was a spontaneously developed mnemonic means of making orders easier to hear and remember above the conversational din of the busy diner. It also provided patrons and employees with a free form of entertainment. 

While you can still hear some of the remnants of diner lingo in use today in classic diners, its prevalence has been drowned out by the emergence of fast food chains and computer ordering. However, if you’re fortunate enough to be sitting in a booth or at a counter being served by a veteran waitperson who still speaks the diner mother tongue to audibly communicate your menu selections to the short order cook, you may be privy to an interpersonal exchange that will take your own classic diner experience to a very special level.

#5: milk

#21: limeade

#41: lemonade

#51: hot chocolate

#55: root beer

#77: Seven-up with vanilla ice cream

50-50: cup of coffee or “Joe” with half-and-half

#81: water

#86: take an item off the order. 

A Murphy: a potato

A spot with a twist: a cup of tea with lemon

A stack of Vermont: pancakes with maple syrup

Adam & Eve on a raft and wreck ‘em: two scrambled eggs on toast

Adam & Eve on a raft: two poached eggs on toast

Adam & Eve on a log: two poached eggs with link sausage

Adam’s ale: water

All day: altogether

All hot: baked potato

All the way: hot wiener with mustard, meat sauce, onions, and celery salt

An M.D./Doc: a Dr Pepper

Angels on Horseback: oysters rolled in bacon and served on toast

Arnold Palmer: Half sweet tea, half lemonade

Atlanta: Coca-Cola (the company is based in Atlanta, Georgia)

Axle grease/skid grease/cow paste: butter

B & B: bread and butter

B.L.T.: bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich

Baby juice/moo juice/cow juice/Sweet Alice: milk

Baby: glass of milk

Baled hay: shredded wheat cereal

Battle Creek in a bowl: bowl of corn flakes cereal (the Kellogg Company based in Battle Creek, Michigan)

Beef stick: bone

Belch water/balloon water: seltzer or soda water

Biddy board: french toast

Billiard: buttermilk

Bird: chicken

Birds in a nest: a fried egg on toast with a hole cut out of the center

Birdseed: breakfast

Black and blue: a steak cooked quickly over very high heat so that it is seared (black) on the outside and rare (blue) on the inside

Black and white: chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream

Black cow: chocolate milk or chocolate soda with chocolate ice cream or a soda made with chocolate ice cream and root beer

Blindfolded: basted egg

Blonde with sand: Coffee with cream and sugar

Bloodhound in the hay: A hot dog with sauerkraut

Blowout patches: pancakes

Blue-plate special: a dish of meat, potato, and vegetable served on a plate (usually blue) sectioned in three parts 

Boiled leaves: tea

Bossy in a bowl: beef stew

Bowl of red: a bowl of chili con carne 

Bow-wow/bun pup/tube steak/groundhog/Coney Island/Coney Island chicken/Coney Island bloodhound: hot 

dog

Break a cowboy: Western omelette

Break it and shake it: add egg to a drink

Breath: onion

Bridge/bridge party: four of anything 

Bronx vanilla/halitosis: garlic

Brown bellies: baked beans

Bubble dancer: dishwasher

Bucket of cold mud: bowl of chocolate ice cream

Bucket of hail: glass of ice

Bullets/whistleberries/Saturday night: baked beans

Bun pup: hot dog 

Burn it and let it swim: a float made with chocolate syrup and ice cream on top

Burn one - put a hamburger on the grill

Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it: hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion

Burn the British: toasted English muffin

C.J. Boston: cream cheese and jelly

C.J. White: cream cheese and jelly on white bread

Cackle fruit/cackleberries/hen fruit: eggs

Cackleberries out west: western omelette

Campers:  customers who “camp out” at a table, taking it up for an extended amount of time. This causes the servers to lose money because they cannot “turn the table.”

Canned cow: evaporated milk

Cat’s eyes: tapioca

Cats heads and easy diggins: biscuits and gravy

C-board: prepared to take-out (in cardboard)

Check the ice: look at the pretty girl who just came in

Checkerboard: waffle

Chewed with fine breath: hamburger with onions

Chicago: pineapple sundae

Chicks on a raft: eggs on toast

China: rice pudding

Chokies: artichokes

Chopper: a table knife

City juice: water

C.J. Boston: cream cheese and jelly

Clean up the kitchen: hash

Coffee dry: coffee with sugar only 

Coffee high and dry: coffee with no cream or sugar or “black”

Coffee high: coffee with cream only (no sugar)

Cops & robbers: donuts and coffee

Cow feed: a salad

Cow paste: butter

Cowboy coffee: coffee made with all chicory

Cowboy Western: a western omelette or sandwich

Cowboy with spurs: western omelette with French fries

Creep: draft beer

Cremate it: toast the bread

Crowd: three of anything 

Cup o’ joe: a cup of coffee

Cup of mud: a cup of coffee

Customer service: attractive table

Customer will take a chance/clean up the kitchen/sweep the floor: hash

Deadeye: poached egg

Dish pig: dishwasher

Dog and maggot: cracker and cheese

Dog biscuit: a cracker

Dog soup: water

Don’t cry over it: omit the onions

Double black cow: double-thick chocolate shake

Dough well done with cow to cover: buttered toast

Down: on toast

Drag it through the garden: a hamburger, hotdog, sandwich or similar with all condiments (vegetables) on it

Drag one through Georgia: Coca-Cola with chocolate syrup

Drag one through Wisconsin: serve with cheese (for example, a cheeseburger)

Draw one in the dark: cup of black coffee

Draw one in the dark/flowing Mississippi: black coffee

Draw one/a cup of mud: cup of coffee

Drop two: two poached eggs

Drown the kids: boiled eggs

Dry stack: pancakes without butter

Dry: a hamburger, hotdog, sandwich or similar without butter, mayonnaise or other dressing

Dusty Miller: chocolate pudding, sprinkled with powdered malt

Echo: repeat

Egg o’ Biscuit: biscuit with egg

Eggs up: two eggs fried on one side, unflipped with unbroken yolks 

Eve with a lid on: apple pie (referring to the biblical Eve’s tempting of Adam with an apple, the “lid” is the pie crust)

Eve with a moldy lid: apple pie with a slice of cheese

Firehouse it: add chili sauce to a dish

First lady: spareribs (based upon the creation of the biblical Eve from Adam’s rib)

Fish eyes or cat’s eyes: tapioca pudding

Flop two: two fried eggs over easy

Flop two, over easy: fried eggs, flipped over carefully, with the yolk very runny

Flop two, over hard: fried eggs, flipped over, with the yolk solid all the way through

Flop two, over medium: fried eggs, flipped over, with the yolk beginning to solidify

Fly cake/roach cake: raisin cake or huckleberry pie

Foreign entanglements: spaghetti

Four on two over easy: two orders of eggs over easy

Frenchman’s delight: pea soup

Frog sticks: French fries

Fry two, let the sun shine: two eggs fried on one side, unflipped with unbroken yolks which are generally runny 

GAC : “grilled American cheese sandwich” (from the pronunciation of “GAC;” also called a “jack” or a “Jack Benny” if there’s bacon on it)

GAC Tommy: “grilled American cheese” sandwich with tomato

Gallery: booth

Gentleman will take a chance: Plate of hash

George Eddy: customer who didn’t leave a tip

Georgia pie: peach pie

Give it wings: serve it quickly

Go for a walk: take-out order

Gravel train: sugar bowl

Graveyard stew: milk toast (buttered toast, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and dropped into a bowl of warm milk)

Groundhog: hot dog

Guess water: soup

Hail: ice

Hatching it: a fried egg on toast with a hole cut out of the center

Heart attack on a rack: biscuits and gravy

Hemorrhage: tomato ketchup

Hen fruit or hen nuts: eggs, sometimes boiled eggs

High and dry: a plain sandwich without butter, mayonnaise, or lettuce

Hoboken special: pineapple soda with chocolate ice cream

Hockey puck: hamburger, well done

Hojack: buttered toast

Hold the grass: sandwich without lettuce

Hold the hail: no ice

Honeymoon salad: lettuce alone

Hope: oatmeal

Hot balls: matzah ball soup

Hot blonde in sand: coffee with cream and sugar

Hot one: bowl of chili con carne

Hot top: hot chocolate

Hounds on an island: franks and beans

Houseboat: banana split

Hug one/squeeze one: glass of orange juice

Ice the rice: rice pudding with ice cream

In the alley: served as a side dish

In the weeds: a waitress or cook who can’t keep up with the tables or orders

Irish turkey: corned beef and cabbage

Jack Benny: cheese with bacon

Jawa/java/Joe: coffee

Jewish round: a bagel

Keep off the grass: no lettuce

Ladybug: fountain man

Leo: lox, eggs and onion, usually served as an omelette (common in New York City)

Let it walk/go for a walk/on wheels/give it shoes: an order to go, a take-out order

Life preservers/sinkers: doughnuts

Lighthouse: salt shaker

Looseners: prunes 

Love apples: tomatoes

LTO: lettuce, tomato, onion

Lumber: a toothpick

Machine oil: syrup

Magoo: custard pie

Mama: marmalade

Maiden’s delight: cherries

Make it cry: with onions

Marry: consolidate food in same containers, e.g. pouring ketchup from half-filled bottles into other bottles to make full bottles

Mayo: mayonnaise

Mike and Ike/the twins: salt and pepper shakers

Million on a platter: a plate of baked beans

Mississippi mud/yellow paint: mustard

Moo juice/cow juice/baby juice/Sweet Alice: milk

Mother and child reunion: chicken and egg sandwich

Mouse trap: grilled cheese sandwich

Muddy Moo: chocolate milk

Mully/Bossy in a bowl: beef stew 

Mystery in the alley: side order of hash

Nervous pudding: Jello or jelly

No cow: without milk

Noah’s boy: slice of ham (Ham was one of the Biblical Noah’s sons)

Noah’s boy on bread: a ham sandwich

Noah’s boy with Murphy carrying a wreath: ham and potatoes with cabbage

On a rail: fast (as in “Fries, on a rail!”)

On the fly: as soon as possible

On the hoof: any kind of meat, cooked rare

One from the Alps: a Swiss cheese sandwich

One on the city: a glass of water

Paint it red: put ketchup on a sandwich or dish

Pair of drawers: two cups of coffee

Pearl diver: dishwasher

Peel it off the wall: add a leaf of lettuce

Pigs in a blanket: sausages wrapped in pancakes

Pin a rose on it: add onion to a dish

Pittsburgh: something burning, toasted or charred

Plate o’ dicks: a plate of sausages

Pope Benedict: eggs benedict

Put a hat on it: add ice cream

Put out the lights and cry: an order of liver and onions

Quail: Hungarian goulash

Rabbit food: lettuce

Radio sandwich: tuna fish sandwich (“tuna down” or tuna on toast sound like “turn it down,” the command often repeated when the radio is on in the kitchen)

Raft: toast, or when used with burgers, a toasted bun

Run it through the garden: any sandwich, usually a hamburger, with lettuce, tomato and onion added

Sand/gravel/yum-yum: sugar

Schmeer: cream cheese, usually on a bagel

Sea dust: salt

Seaboard: to go

Shake one in the hay: strawberry milkshake

Shingle with a shimmy and a shake: buttered toast with jam or jelly

Shivering hay: strawberry gelatin

Shoot from the south/Atlanta special: Coca-Cola

Shot out of the blue bottle: Bromo-Seltzer

Slab of moo, let him chew it: rare round steak

Sleigh ride special: vanilla pudding

Smear: margarine or butter

Soup jockey: waitress

Splash of red noise: a bowl of tomato soup

Stack/short stack: order of pancakes

Sun kiss/Oh jay (O.J.): orange juice

Sunny-side up: eggs fried without flipping them so the yolk looks just like a sun on white background

Sweep the kitchen/sweepings/clean up the kitchen: a plate of hash

The works: a hamburger, hotdog, sandwich or similar with all condiments on it

Throw it in the mud: add chocolate syrup

To sell: to finish the plate

Tube steak: frankfurter

Twelve alive in a shell: a dozen raw oysters

Two cows, make them cry: two hamburgers with onions

Vermont: maple syrup

Walk a cow through the garden: hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion

Walking in: a new order just arriving in the kitchen

Walking: to go

Warts: olives

Wax: American cheese

Well-dressed diner: codfish

We’ve got a gambler in the house: hash

Western Coffee: coffee that has been on the range all day

Whiskey: rye bread

Whiskey down: rye toast

White cow: vanilla milkshake

Why bother: decaffeinated coffee with non-fat milk

Winnie Palmer: half sweet tea, half lemonade

Wreath: cabbage

Wreck ‘em: scrambled eggs

Yellow paint: mustard

Yesterday, today, and forever: hash

Yum-yum/sand: sugar

Zeppelin: sausage

Zeppelins in a fog: sausages and mashed potatoes

Compiled by Garrison Leykam, author of "Classic Diners of Connecticut"