And who in the world is Tom Collins, Harvey Wallbanger and why does Alexander like Brandy so much?
Did Shirley Temple ever drink Shirley Temples, and what in the world is a Gimlet? Was an Old-Fashioned always old-fashioned, or at one point was it modern and new?
Are Sangria, Margarita and Mojito named after pretty Spanish ladies? Was the Bloody Mary the favorite drink of Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of Henry VIII?
The same can be said of food names. Hamburgers don’t have ham in them and pineapples don’t come from pine trees or look like apples.
Kiwis don’t have anything to do with the kiwi bird and it is not a fruit that is widely eaten by New Zealanders who are also called kiwis.
When hot dogs first came to America they were called frankfurters because a German American from Frankfurt, Germany opened the first ‘hot dog’ stand in Coney Island, but it wasn’t called hot dog until a cartoonist drew the cylindrical sandwich with a Dachshund in the bun. It was identified with the wiener dog because it was also a widely recognized symbol of Germany.
There are all sorts of funny food names like littleneck clams, butternut squash, hoppin’ john, angel food cake and it’s nemesis devil’s food.
Littleneck clams are similar to Buffalo wings in that the name references a place rather than a creature’s anatomy. The clams hail from Little Neck Bay, Long Island and the wings from Buffalo, New York.
And while we are on the subject of Long Island, Long Island iced tea is rumored to have been created in Long Island, Tenn., and not New York.
Religious hierarchy of ancient times can be credited for many food terms. The word cappuccino originates from the rich brown robes of an Italian order of monks known as Capuchins who are credited with inventing the espresso and milk drink. And monkfish get’s it name because of its oddly shaped head resembling a monk’s cowl neck robe.
Meanwhile, during the reign of James II, the last Roman Catholic monarch to rule over the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland, several anti-Catholic food references were born. One that continues in modern culinary terminology is the pope’s or parson’s nose which is the butt end of a chicken. When the bird is plucked, raw, and ready for cooking this part of the chicken’s anatomy actually resembles a nose.
Getting back to drinks, Shirley Temple may or may not have drunk Shirley Temples while attending parties in Beverly Hills as a child. A few different rumors have circulated about the creation of the drink but chances are it was a marketing gimmick from the late 1930s. Apparently, Shirley Temple Black mentioned in her autobiography that she did not like the drink and opposes non-alcoholic cocktails being created for children.
Another legendary cocktail story is that the screwdriver is named for American oil-rig workers stationed in the Middle East during the 1950s. They would open cans of orange juice with their screwdrivers, add the alcohol and stir with the tool, as well.
Many of these names make little sense and it’s amusing to learn the reference continues after so many years.
Like the Sidecar, a drink invented in France by a man who enjoyed riding in motorcycle sidecars or Harvey Wallbanger, a reported surfer named Harvey who had too many screwdrivers after losing a surfing competition and while trying to leave the bar kept bumping into walls and furniture. The drink is a stronger variation of a screwdriver.
Studying the origin of words is always an interesting exercise, and learning the history behind popular foods and drinks is almost as fun as eating them.
Are there food legends or origins you would like to share or have researched? Send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 410 W. Erwin, Tyler, TX 75702.
Christine Gardner can also be found on Facebook at Christine Gardner Tyler Paper Food or on Twitter @ TylerFlavor.