"Bronx vanilla” has been the diner lingo term for “garlic” since the 1930s. The term is historical and is not used today. Other diner lingo names for garlic include “halitosis” and “Italian perfume.”
The Bronx used to have many Jewish residents in the 1930s and 1940s. “Bronx vanilla” (garlic) could have been a description of their white skin and perceived smell. H. L. Mencken (see below) wrote in 1952 that Bronx vanilla “obviously does” have a derogatory connection to Bronx Jews.
Wikipedia: Diner lingo
Diner Lingo is a kind of verbal shorthand used by cooks and chefs in diners and diner-style restaurants, as well as Waffle Houses.
Bronx vanilla/Halitosis/Italian Garlic: garlic
20 August 1936, Chester (PA) Times, pg. 14, col. 1:
CREDITS GARLIC FOR
BUFFALO, N. Y., August 20—(UP)—The American housewife’s discovery and use of garlic as a condiment is making them the greatest cooks in the world, George Rector, famed New York restauranteur (sic), said today.
“Garlic, now called Bronx vanilla,” Rector told the convention of International Stewards’ amd Caterers’ Association, “is the hidden jewel of French cuisine.”
The American Language:
An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States
By Henry Louis Mencken
New York, NY: A.A. Knopf
Item notes: v. 1
Whether or not Bronx cheer embodies an allusion to the Jews who swarm in the Bronx I do not know. Bronx vanilla, for garlic, obviously does.
29 April 1993, Miami (FL) Herald, “For a sweet, nutty flavor, toss in 40 cloves of garlic,” pg. 8E:
Called “the truffle of Provence,” “Bronx vanilla” and “Italian perfume,” garlic has provoked controversy down through history.
Sundae Best: a history of soda fountains
By Anne Cooper Funderburg
Published by Popular Press
BRONX VANILLA: Garlic
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Friday, April 24, 2009 • Permalink