Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 08:28:13 -0700
From: Allen Maberry maberry[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Subject: soda jerk lingo
In a recent copy of the Oregonian there was an article by Phil Vettel of
the Chicago Tribune News Service on the jargon used by soda jerks. The
article is probably easier to reproduce than summarize, so here it is.
It is fairly long for an e-mail message, so be forwarned.
Jerks had a lingo all their own
The language of the soda jerk--a system of slang and abbreviations--is all
but dead, concedes Lynda Utterback, publisher of the National Dipper
Magazine, a trade magazine to 20,000 ice cream stores.
"Nobody uses it anymnore," she says. "But they would know what it means."
"They" are the 1,500 members of the National Association of Soda Jerks, a
group "dedicated to the preservation of American nostalgia" and the
heritage of the soda fountain in particular.
Though members range from youngsters to one 105-year-old, most true soda
jerks would be men in their 80s and 90s today, says founder Betty J.
Generally, in the 1920s and '30s jerks were men (insert punchline here),
Davis says; women didn't become soda jerks in significant numbers until
Soda jerk jargon, Davis says, had several purposes. Colorful terms added
an air of romance and mystery to the soda jerk's performance; "shake one
all the way" refered to a chocolate shake with chocolate ice cream, and
"shake one in the hay" was a strawberry shake. Other terms were simply
used for fun: "Belch water" for a glass of soda, "cow juice" for milk,
"dog soup" for plain water.
And some phrases let soda jerks talk openly about customers. A "gorp"
referred to a greedy eater; "George Eddy" was a nontipper and "87 12"
referred to a good looking girl (other terms were more specific about a
Jargon varied regionally, and even from jerk to jerk, Davis says. For
instance, a phosphate made with all syrup floavor added was called a
"suicide" in Omaha, and a "graveyard" in Lincoln, Neb. A "black cow" mad
with root beer and ice cream, was called a "brown cow" in some regions,
and in other parts of the country a "brown cow" was mad with cola, not
root beer. A drink made with lime syrup, lime juice and soda water was
variously known as a "green river," "lime rickey," "squeeze one" or "green
More jerk jargon, as compiled by the National Association of Soda Jerks:
* Adam's Ale: water
* Bucket of Hail: ice
* Burn One : add malt powder
* Chicago Pineapple: soda
* Coney Island chicken: hot dog
* Glob: plain sundae
* House Boat: banana split
* Make It Virtue: cherry Coke
* Muddy River: chocolate Coke
* On wheels: to go
* Sand: sugar
* Shoot one: small Coke
* Shoot one and Stretch it: larger Coke
* Shoot it yellow: lemon Coke
* Suds: root beer
* White cow: vanilla shake
whew! all typos are, of course, mine.
maberry[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]u.washington.edu