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20 phrases you need to know to work as a soda jerk

Editor’s Note: Our lox columnist has written about his past life as a soda jerk in the Bronx during the 1940s and 50s. At that time, working in that trade meant you had to speak the language of the lunch counter. We asked Len for a list of some of the most memorable phrases he used back then. Memorize them and you could be on your way to being a soda jerk too:

86: We’re out of it

95: A customer left without paying

99: The boss or an inspector is on the premises

Adam and Eve on a raft: 2 poached eggs on toast

Adam’s ale: a glass of water

All black: chocolate soda with chocolate ice cream

Black and white: chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream

Burn one: Make a hamburger on the grill

Cow juice: milk

Dead eye: a poached egg

GABC: a grilled American cheese sandwich with bacon

High and dry: a sandwich with nothing on it

Houseboat: a banana split

In the alley: on the side

Oh gee: Orange ade

On the hoof: cooked rare

On wheels: to go

Sea dust: salt

Stretch one, paint it red: Cherry Coke

Yum yum: sugar

Len Berk is the Forward’s loc columnist. He worked behind the counter at Zabar’s for 26 years.




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