27 Secret Phrases You Would Only Hear at a ’50s Diner
Paint a bow-wow red, shingle with a shimmy and a shake, drown the kids?? Welcome to the wacky world of diner lingo, where elephants have dandruff, the salads have warts, and your server might kindly ask the chef to put the lights out and cry.
Burn one, take it through the garden, and pin a rose on it
Don’t be alarmed when you order a hamburger and hear this called out instead. “Burn one” refers to dropping the burger in the grill, and “taking it through the garden” means topping it with lettuce and tomato. Your burger is then finished with the most fragrant of roses: the onion. Looking for the best fast food burger? We tried them all and found a favorite.
Shingle with a shimmy and shake
Besides being an excellent tongue-twister, this phrase is a cheeky way to call out for buttered toast with jam. Hopefully, your toast is a little more tender than a roof tile. Speaking of jammy toast—here are 70 childhood classics all grown up.
Cowboy with spurs
While I wouldn’t mind sitting down across from a cowboy, this actually means a Western (or Denver) omelet with french fries. I know. I’m disappointed, too. Lift your spirits by learning how to make it at home.
This quirky term refers to a banana split, named such because of their resemblance to the nomadic homestead. Banana splits have been an American classic since their invention in 1904 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, which still holds the Great American Banana Split Celebration to this day.
Drag one through Wisconsin
Drag anything through Wisconsin and it’s bound to pick up some of this ingredient—cheese! (See our top Wisco recipes.) Wisconsin isn’t the only place your diner is dragging things—”drag one through the garden” means putting all the condiments on it, and “drag one through Georgia” is a weird phrase for the even weirder beverage: cola with chocolate syrup.
Somebody searched high and low for the least appetizing way to describe corn flakes, and they sure found it! But if you’re still keen on corn flakes, you’ll want to order it with “baby juice,” a.k.a. milk. Find out the weirdest food laws in every state.
Adam and Eve on a raft
This is possibly one of the better-known diner terms, referring to two eggs on toast. But the dynamic duo inspired a whole slew of breakfast terms, like “Adam and Eve on a log” for eggs and sausage, or “Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck ’em” for scrambled eggs and toast. Poor Adam and Eve, what a precarious lifestyle! Order up these eggy breakfasts at home.
Twist it, choke it, and make it cackle
Wow! Diners sure are violent! Don’t be afraid, your server is just ordering a chocolate malt with an egg. Although the term does serve as an excellent warning to any would-be dine-and-dashers. Psst! Learn why you should be adding an egg to your coffee, too.
Put the lights out and cry
from my point of view/Shutterstock
Maybe the chef is asking for a little privacy while they express some emotional vulnerability, maybe you just ordered liver and onions. Onions often get a bad rap in diner lingo—”make it cry” is another way to get something topped with onions, and “chewed with fine breath” is hamburger and onions. How…appetizing.
Who knew your piece of sliced ham was directly related to the biblical patriarch himself!? Diners love some good wordplay, and the association between Noah’s son Ham and your choice of protein is just too good to pass up. Don’t miss the surprising birthplace of your favorite foods.