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 September 10, 2009
Soup Jockey (waiter or waitress)

A “soup jockey” is restaurant slang for a waiter or waitress. “Soup jockey” appears to have first been used in railroad dining cars to refer to a cook—not a waiter or waitress—and is cited in print from 1924. By the 1930s, a “soup jockey” was a term for a waitress (usually not used for a waiter). The slang is not used today.


Wikipedia: Diner lingo
Soup jockey: waitress

Google Books
Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang
By Jonathon Green
London: Cassell
2006
Pg. 1334:
soup jockey n. [1930s] (US) a waiter or waitress. [SE soup + JOCKEY n.3 (2)]

Google Books
The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: J-Z
By Eric Partridge, Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor
New York, NY: Routledge
2005
Pg. 1821:
soup jockey noun
a cook for a railway work crew US
• — J. Herbert Lund, Herb’s Hot Box of Railroad Slang, p. 82, 1975

Google Books
Two Bells
By Los Angeles Railway Corporation
v. 5
1924
I know a soup jockey named Harry
Who made this wise crack, “I’ll ne’er marry”

13 July 1936, Van Nuys (CA) News, pg. 8, col. 3:
Forger with a homer and single to her credit lead the attack for the soup jockeys.
(Waitresses, playing baseball—ed.)

Google Books
Commercial Car Journal
1938
Pg. 60:
SOUP JOCKEY — waitress

11 October 1939, Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, “Expert Advises Against Using Restaurant Lingo,” pg. 9, col. 4:
Headwaiters should never employ the old-fashioned trick of speeding up service by shouting: “Get a move on, you soup jockeys.”

Google Books
The American Mercury
v. 52
1941
Pg. 461:
“Besides, my girl’s a soup jockey at the all-nighter half way to Meadville.” Soup jockey? That would be a waitress, I supposed.

Google Books
American Speech
By American Dialect Society
v. 17
1942
Pg.105:
SOUP JOCKEY. Waitress.

11 April 1942, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “The Marines Have Landed a Movie on Their Life,” sec. II, pg. 3:
The soup jockeys around San Diego are the ones to know the vocabulary.

Google Books
Mikes Don’t Bite
By Helen Johnson Sioussat
New York, NY: L. B. Fischer
1943
Pg. 294:
Restaurants have a language all their own, all the way from Maine to California. For instance a waitress is a “soup jockey,” a grapefruit is “a squirt,” a codfish is a “submarine turkey,” spareribs, “a pig’s corset,” tapioca pudding, “a pot of glue,” and a large glass of milk, “white moo and stretch it.”

Google Books
Santa Fe: The railroad that built an empire
By James Leslie Marshall
New York, NY: Random House
1945
Pg. 373:
Soup jockey Cook

Google Books
Nonsense, U. S. A.:
A collection of nonsensical Americana

By Dick Hyman
New York, NY: Dutton
1953
Pg. 177:
... “soup jockey” is a waitress in an all-night lunch room;...

7 April 1956, Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, IN), pg. 4, col. 3:
“I am having to learn the circus vocabulary,” says Val, “and I have learned that I’m a ‘first of May’—that means a new employe. I now say ‘cook house’ instead of restaurant, know that a ‘soup jockey’ is a waiter and that aerialists are either catchers or flyers.”

Google Books
Simon and Schuster Crossword Puzzle Book #240
By John M. Samson
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
2004
Pg. 48:
DINERESE by John M. Samson
In diners, soup jockeys are waitresses and bubble dancers are dishwashers.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Thursday, September 10, 2009 • Permalink