Hash House Lingo
"Give Aunt Martha a cockroach and mail off a series of strongly worded letters to a fringe publication concerning the tax code."A Rule of Funny trope. A scene takes place in a restaurant, the waitress takes the diners' orders, and after taking their menus, she calls toward the kitchen something that sounds like utter gibberish. Brooklyn accents are typical of these scenes, as is some misfortune happening to Adam and Eve, which is near-universal as code for describing the endless ways to cook two eggs. There is some Truth in Television to this. Waiters can and will use wacky names as mnemonic devices, and customers use slang for the convenience (like in many other transactions). There is a reason this is associated with roadside diners; unlike places in towns or cities where the staff turnover would be relatively high, diners located on long interstates would tend to keep the same staff for many years. After a decade of operating a place, every possible order can be an in-joke that the entire staff would be privy to. Common in, but not exclusive to, the Greasy Spoon. May contain Lampshade Hanging as to the nature of the food. Not to be confused with Hash(ish) House Lingo, though it might be.
open/close all folders
- One story arc in Gasoline Alley involved Slim filling in for the regular cook at the local diner, and being unfamiliar with this slang.
- In a Garfield strip, Jon asks for a hamburger with extra onions. The waitress then turns to the kitchen and yells "BURN A COW AND MAKE HER CRY!" which causes Jon and Garfield to lose their appetites.
- A Mad Magazine strip by Don Martin features several customers placing and receiving orders in this fashion, followed by a guy demanding of the cook "Where's the men's room, mack? Gotta go and no foolin'," which is mistaken for another order.
Films — Animation
- The Emperor's New Groove: After Pacha and Kuzco order two specials and an onion ring log, the waitress calls, "Ordering! Two heart-burns and a deep-fried doorstop."
- Then, when Kronk takes over for the cook, she gives him a rapid-fire list of orders, and he pauses for a beat before confirming in jargon.
Waitress: "Ordering! Three pork combos, extra bacon on the side, two chili cheese samplers, a basket of liver and onion rings, a catch of the day, and a steak cut in the shape of a trout. You got all that, honey?"Kronk: "Three oinkers wearing pants, plate of hot air, basket of Grandma's breakfast and change the bull to a gill, got it."
- He left out the catch of the day.
- Then, when Kronk takes over for the cook, she gives him a rapid-fire list of orders, and he pauses for a beat before confirming in jargon.
Films — Live Action
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie orders "scotch on the rocks" from a Toon waiter, realizes whom he's addressing and corrects it to, "And I mean ice!", but the waiter brings him a shot glass with gravel in it anyway.
- Rather hilarious in its incongruity, in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
- Heat features bursts of Hash House Lingo in the diner where Breeden is slaving when McCauley offers him a job as getaway driver. McCauley makes the new order $12 million to go!
- In The Three Stooges short "Playing the Ponies", when someone orders two eggs on toast Moe shouts to Curly the cook "Adam and Eve on a raft!" — followed by "And wreck 'em!" after the customer clarifies that he wants the eggs scrambled rather than fried.
- Older than Television: In the Fatty Arbuckle short The Waiters' Ball, a customer asks for pork and beans, and the waiter shouts to Fatty to make "One grunt with a thousand on a plate!".
- In Pulp Fiction, the retro Malt Shop Jackrabbit Slim's uses hash house lingo in its menu. Mia orders her milkshake "Martin and Lewis" rather than "Amos and Andy" (vanilla rather than chocolate). Meat is ordered either "burnt to a crisp" or "bloody as hell."
- The Frank and Ernest picture books (nothing to do with the comic strip) are about an anthropomorphic elephant and bear encountering the colorful argot of various professions. The first book is about diner-speak.
- A chapter of the first Odd Thomas book details Odd's normal work day at the diner he works at. The only thing that isn't diner lingo is an order for hash browns.
- Colonel Cyrus in The Virginian translates our hero's plain English order for a steak and eggs: "One slaughter in the pan, and let the blood drip!"
- In the Katie Kazoo book Out to Lunch, the lunch ladies use diner-speak in the cafeteria kitchen.
- Prevalent in one of The Ultra Violets's hang-outs, Tom's Diner. Butterbeer, for example, is called the "Harry Classic."
- In a children's book series featuring kids rescuing and returning lost pets, a book features a parrot who says odd things, frustrating his would-be rescuers who can't figure out where he learned what he's saying or what it means. Eventually the point of view character visits a diner and overhears some of the parrot's phrases being said which prompts her to realize he lives in a diner.
Live Action TV
- An episode of Reading Rainbow: LeVar Burton wound up just guessing and getting every order horribly, horribly wrong, although, since this was a restaurant meant for goat people (It tied in with a book that episode about a goat who was a picky eater, just roll with it) it was part of the gag.
- Once on The Jeffersons, Tom Willis ordered a drink "on the rocks. And hold the ice."
- In an episode of Dharma and Greg, the eponymous couple start talking like this (especially Dharma) when they have to pretend to be the temporary staff of a diner (and relatives of the owners) in order to avoid being arrested for breaking and entering. It Makes Sense in Context.
- One episode of Gilmore Girls has Lorelai stepping in when Luke is indisposed. Lorelai being Lorelai, that comes complete with diner speak (and insisting that customers order certain things because she thinks the diner-speak for them is funny).
- On Friends Monica is dubious that Phoebe can be a waitress. Phoebe gives the following demonstration of her abilities, too bad catering a funeral doesn't really require this kind of lingo:
Phoebe: I can be a waitress. Okay, watch this. Um, gimme two number ones, 86 the bacon, one Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck 'em, la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la.
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Threads," Daniel Jackson is stuck in a diner on a higher plane of existence. Oma Desala is his waitress, and she attempts to use the lingo on occasion. Amusingly, it's the most straightforward she ever is for the entire series (on previous appearances, she spoke primarily in koans).
- In one episode of Frasier, Niles orders a decaf latte with skimmed milk at Cafe Nervosa, and the barrista calls out "One gutless wonder!" note
- In an episode of L.A. 7 Jo gets a job at a diner like this, but almost gets fired when the customers insist on speaking in lingo like this and Jo, being British and unfamiliar with it (and kinda brusque even at the best of times,) starts yelling at them for not telling her in plain English what the hell a "walking dog, hold the hay, and a tall brown cow" is (which is likely a hot dog without sauerkraut and a chocolate shake.)
- Heard on occasion on the Sesame Street "Grover as waiter" skits.
- Gladys from The Muppet Show talked like this sometimes. Miss Piggy's order of a watercress sandwich and rhubarb juice was "The Weight Watcher's Special". Annie Sue's large order of a milkshake, burger, fries and apple pie was a "Kamikaze".
- In a comedy performance at Carnegie Hall, Ray Romano talked about formerly being a diner waiter, and noted that knowing the language actually hurt him in later jobs. When he later worked at a pharmacy:
Woman: I need some Sominex and some condoms...
Ray: (to the back) Sleeping beauty's got a date! (to the woman) anything else?
Woman: Um, I can't swallow these, do you have them in a suppository?
Ray: (to the back) The bridge is closed, she's taking the tunnel!
- Kyle Cease has this joke:
I hate whenever you go into a coffee shop, no matter what you order they have their own way of calling it to the back. Like you could be like, "Hi, I'll have a tall mocha iced latte blended fun." And then the lady's like, "BLEEUH!, anything else?"
- Louis CK claims to have mastered the code for ordering breakfast foods. For example, this would be the code for someone ordering scrambled eggs, bacon and orange juice:
Louis: "Wake up the monkey and show him a dollar. Shave my back and slap my sister. Wax lips. Two lumpy tits riding sidecar. And scrambled eggs and bacon and orange juice."
- In Sam & Max Season 2, ordering something from Stinky's diner will result in this.
Sam: Chicken chow mein with chocolate covered raisins and a caramel swirl.Stinky: Sal, get me a hyperactive spider monkey in a powder-blue cardigan. And why don't we go ahead and wrestle him to the ground and tickle him until he pees.Max: I have got to see what goes on in this kitchen!
Stinky: Sal, a Number 3!
- The gag can also be reversed: Sam will rattle of a completely random sequence of animals/actions/farmyard implements to throw Stinky off. Her response?
- The Enclave cook in Fallout 2 will gladly, if you ask for food, serve you "shit on a shingle" and points to the "snow and fly shit" on the table. "Shit on a shingle" is chipped beef on toast (this is genuine military slang), "snow and fly shit" are salt and pepper.
- Leisure Suit Larry 2: When ordering a "Blue Pate" special at the airport, the woman behind the counter yells to the kitchen to "slop up another bald one!"
- In an episode of Jimmy Neutron, the three boys get jobs at a restaurant. Sheen is at the drive-thru window and calls out the order. Carl replies, "Is he doing the hokey-pokey or the chicken dance?" Sheen looks back at the car and asks, "Would you like fries with that?"
Sheen: Hey, Carl. Gimme a taxi driver with a Polish accent.
- This becomes a running gag in the episode, to the point where the following exchange occurs when Jimmy quits:
Carl: You want a hamburger with peanut butter on it?
Sheen: No, but if Jimmy's leaving, we're gonna need a ride home.
- Used occasionally in SpongeBob SquarePants.
Bubble Bass: I'll take a double triple balty deluxe, on a raft, 4x4 animal style, extra shingles with a shimmy and a squeeze, light axle grease, make it cry, burn it, and let it swim.
Squidward: We serve food here, sir.
- As it turns out, this is actual terminology
- Spongebob himself seems to have his own terminology, shouting out such things as "One Crying Johnny!" and "A dozen crying cows on a farm!" in the same episode.
- Doug takes this trope to the extreme in the pilot when Doug tries to order from the Honker Burger for the first time, and the cashier doesn't even understand the real names for the menu items:
Doug: Hi, I'd like three hamburgers, one no pickles, one no onions, one fish sandwich, four fries, and four grape sodas.
Cashier: I can't understand a word you say.
Skeeter: Hey, man, let me take care of it. The new kid wants three moo cows, one no cucs, one no stinkers, one wet one, four tubers, and four from the vine. Do you want anything else?
Doug: How do you order a salad from the salad bar?
Skeeter: One salad from the salad bar!
- Just like the aforementioned movie, The Emperor's New School contains surprisingly little of this, but when it does it's extremely funny. Kuzco even throws Mata, the lunch lady, into the dungeon (due to his made up school rules) because she spoke hash lingo not even she herself understood.
- The Bob's Burgers episode "Bob and Deliver" has the following exchange:
Gene: Give me a bald Kelly Ripa and a canoe with a brick!Zeke: Chicken taco, no sour cream, plus a brownie — you got it.Gene: Really? I didn't even know what I meant.
- The clip in Family Guy when Peter worked at a diner.
Man 1: Can I get two eggs, scrambled, on toast?Peter: Sure thing, honey. Adam and Eve on a raft, wreck them!Man 2: I'd like a hotdog with ketchup and some Jell-O, please.Peter: Paint a bow-wow red and a side of nervous pudding!Man 3: Can I have a well-done burger with lettuce and tomato?Peter: Burn one, drag it through the garden, pin a rose on it!Man 4: Can I use your bathroom?Peter: Got a telephone pole heading to the swimming hole. Spray it with sunshine!
- The Veggie Tales episode ''Asparagus of La Mancha" is rife with this kind of lingo. The DVD even includes a special feature explaining the meanings of various terms.
Pancho: Two cows still mooing and a Hail Caesar, hold the bird.
- One of the episodes in the first season of Westernanimation/Daria (Road Warrior) features this. When Daria, Jane, Trent and Jesse stop a diner on their way to a rock concert:
Waitress: Okay, that's a meatloaf, open turkey with fries, box of Frosted Flakes... those are pretty small, hon. Just one?Jesse: You're right. Make it five.Waitress (to Daria): And you?Daria: Dry toast and tea, please.Waitress: I thought you looked depressed. You want a booster seat? (short laugh before turning and yelling) Five boxes of flakes and one nausea delight!
- Many drinks are ordered "on the rocks", which can refer to ice or actual rocks. A lot of people object to diluting high quality drinks but need a cooling system.
- See also the Other Wiki, here. Usually not quite as esoteric as what shows up in fiction (particularly comedy), but these gags have to start somewhere.
- The Canadian comedy group Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie was named after one of these. It was the slang for a triple hamburger to go at the restaurant where they first met.
- In-N-Out Burger has a "secret menu", items not normally listed which can be ordered if you know the right lingo, for example, "Protein Style" means a burger wrapped in lettuce rather than on a bun. A full list can be found here.
- Israel has ‘Ovad’s Diner (commonly known as ‘‘Ovad’s Sabikh’) in Giv‘atayim, which is famous for its unique lingo. The Hebrew version of The Other Wiki used to feature a list of the terms used there.
- In addition to its regular divergences from traditional caffeine drinking thought, Starbucks has a complex enough lingo to actually hinder both their baristas trying to work outside the chain, and outside baristas dealing with the lingo at Starbucks coffee shops.
- Lick's restaurant lingo comes in halves; the person taking the order calls out the first half, and the grill people and dressers call out the second half, so that everyone knows if they've understood correctly. (A fair number of the terms either rhyme or alliterate.) The customer, who might only hear the first half, may find the lingo a bit esoteric, such as "Sky high" for a regular fries or "Routine" for a poutine. But for the most part they tend to speak for themselves and can be worked out with little to no thought, such as "Nature" for a nature burger (veggie burger), "Ring a ding ding" for onion rings, or "Gobble gobble" for a turkey burger.
"Adam and Eve on a raft and sink 'em!"