Brush up on your 1940s lunch-order slang, why dontcha?

Confuse your next lunch server with these choice phrases found in the New York Public Library's "Lunch Hour NYC" exhibition.

New York Automat

New York Automat Photograph: Courtesy New York Public Library

We caught the closing day of the New York Public Libray's "Lunch Hour NYC" exhibit and hope you saw it too. It was a fascinating look at the development of the concept of lunch: Apparently New York—with its rapacious greed and frantic obsession with time—pushed the main meal of dinner back to the evening so that nine-to-fivers could stuff their faces in a mere 30 minutes and get the fuck back to work—unless, of course, they could show they were above the plebs by taking ostentatious, leisurely power lunches. Among the exhibit's plentiful artifacts, drawn from the NYPL's archives, were a lunch Automat, the kind of lunch boxes that marked you as the cool kid in the canteen, and a list of luncheonette slang, adapted from America Eats (1940). We picked a few of our favorite pieces of jargon and—because you need to learn to work for your knowledge—created a multiple-choice quiz to help you retain this information. Active learning, people.


Watch a video preview of "Lunch Hour NYC"