A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 21, 2015
Shipwreck (scrambled eggs)

"Shipwreck” is restaurant slang for “scrambled eggs.” The term “shipwreck” has been cited in print since at least 1887 and probably started on the Bowery.

“Adam and Eve” is restaurant lingo for two eggs, and has been cited in print since at least 1891. “Adam and Eve on a raft” is two poached eggs on toast. “Adam and Eve on a raft, (ship)wreck ‘em!” (two scrambled eggs on toast) was cited on the Bowery in 1892. The restaurant lingo mostly disappeared by the 1940s and is of historical interest today.


Brooklyn Newsstand
3 July 1887, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, “Restaurant Calls,” pg. 13, col. 1:
“Shipwreck” is scrambled eggs.

3 November 1891, The Evening Repository (Canton, OH), pg. 5, col. 3:
RESTAURANT WAITERS’ SLANG.
(...)
White wings on a shipwreck means two eggs turned over or the yolks broken.

White wings with sunny side up, two! means two fried eggs with the yolks up.

29 October 1892, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Gotham by ‘Phone,” pg. 2, col. 7:
“Here’s the newest and latest from the Bowery restaurant,” said he. “Man goes in determined to beat the waiter at his own game. ‘I’ll give an order he will have to call out to the cook as I give it,’ says the man. ‘Waiter,’ he says, ‘give me two poached eggs on toast and have the yolks of the eggs broken.’ Waiter looks mad, scratches his head and then smiles and yells down to the kitchen, ‘Adam and Eve on a raft. Wreck ‘em!’”

22 April 1895, Delphos (OH) Daily Herald, pg. 7, col. 1:
Slang of the Cheap Restaurant.
A stranger entered a cheap restaurant in Boston one day and on ordering dropped eggs on toast was astonished to hear the waiter yell to the cook: “Adam and Eve on a raft!” Then as the order was changed to scrambled eggs, he cried out quickly, “Shipwreck that order.”—Boston Budget.

Chronicling America
28 March 1896, The Sun (New York, NY), “Southern Lunch Counter Slang,” pg. 2, col. 6:
Ham and eggs are called “kansas City chicken and Adam and Eve.” “Adam and Eve” seems to be a favorite figure of speech for representing an egg, scrambled eggs being known as “adam and Eve shipwrecked,” while eggs on toast are called “Adam and Eve on a raft.” Other names for scrambled eggsare “agitated eggs,” “storm tossed,” and “eggs around the curve.”

15 August 1897, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “A Feature of City Life: The Restaurants of the Metropolis and the Familiar Places One Sees,” pg. 21, col. 2:
Eggs scrambled with chile sauce, “Ship wreck in the Red sea.”

17 July 1899, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 5, col. 3
STORY OF A QUEER
CAFE IN NEW YORK
(...)
Michael Casey, the original owner of the place which he styled a cafe, belonged to that class of men known in New York years ago as the “Bowery Boys.” Casey was a prominent member of this peculiar clan and up to the day of his death, which occurred a number of years ago, he always mentioned his connection with the boys as a matter of pride.
(...)(Col. 4—ed.)
“Shipwreck two” was the alarming order for scrambled eggs and “hand me down the B. and O.” was for steak smothered in onions.
(...)
An order for eggs on toast went to the kitchen as, “Adam and Eve on a raft,” but if after giving this order the customer wanted the eggs plain, the countermand went out as, “Save Adam and Eve; sink the raft.”

16 March 1908, The Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), “Journalisms,” pg. 4, col. 3:
Did you ever see a crowd of hobos at a “shipwrecking”? For three consecutive years the hoboes over the country, under the leadership of Charles F. Noe and “Onion” Cotton, held conventions. The bums attended in goodly numbers, and during each convention many “shipwrecks” were duly celebrated. A “shipwreck” consists of all the fresh eggs opbtainable. The shells are broken open and the eggs are turned into a pan, the yolks floating unbroken in the whites. When the pan is full or the eggs have all been opened, some hero of the frowsy coterie gabs a stick or rude ladle and makes scrambled eggs of the floating islands. This is termed the “shipwreck.” When the eggs have been cooked they are dipped out and placed between slices of bread and eaten as sandwiches.

27 December 1908, Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette, “Scrambled English Is Served in the Public Eating Places of Kalamazoo,” pg. 10:
“Adam and Eve.”
“Shipwreck two” does not necessarily mean to turn somebody out of a boat into the large, damp river. It generally means two scrambled eggs.

“Adam and Eve on a raft” is known the world over as a simile for two poached eggs on “railroad” toast.

1 March 1936, New York (NY) Times, “Lexicon of the Soda Jerker” by Helen Dallas, pg. X10:
Expressions used throughout America include the famous “pig between two” for a ham sandwich, and “Adam and Eve on a raft—and wreck ‘em” for scrambled eggs on toast. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, August 21, 2015 • Permalink