Date: Mon, 14 Nov 1994 08:11:00 EST


Subject: Re: On the other 86

Though the OED makes a slight pass at the etymology of 86 (indicating the

origin may have come about through a rhyme with "nix"), the Morris

Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins gives an interesting run-down on soda

jerks' code numbers of the '20's. 33 was for Cherry Coke, for example; 98

was the code for the assistant manager and came to be associated with

"pest"; 87 1/2 was the code for the boys to be on the lookout for a

good-looking girl coming their way; and 86 was the code number when an item

wasn't in stock. The reference goes on to say that the soda fountain code

number got passed into bartender's lingo as a way of alerting another

server that a customer had had enough to imbibe and no more booze should be

poured for that particular guzzler.

Old Dad met Mom there at the fountain where he lured her into conversation

with free Sundaes, phosphates, and banana splits. I'll ask him about the

code, though his malting days were in the early forties.