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 May 15, 2016
“Dumbwaiter: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert”

The book The Dictionary According to Mommy (1989), by Joyce Armor, contains this definition:

“Dumbwaiter: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.”

A “dumbwaiter” is a small freight elevator—and not a “stupid waiter”—but the jocular definition has been frequently reprinted, along with others from the book.


Wikipedia: Dumbwaiter
A dumbwaiter is a small freight elevator (or lift) intended to carry objects rather than people. Dumbwaiters found within modern structures, including both commercial, public and private buildings, are often connected between multiple floors. When installed in restaurants, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, retirement homes or in private homes, the lifts generally terminate in a kitchen.

The term seems to have been popularized in the United States in the 1840s, after the model of earlier “dumbwaiters” now known as serving trays and lazy Susans.

OCLC WorldCat record
The dictionary according to Mommy
Author: Armor Joyce.; Christine Tripp
Publisher: Deephaven, MN : Meadowbrook Press ; New York : Distributed by Simon & Schuster, ©1989.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

25 April 1990, Washington (DC) Post, “Bob Levey’s Washington,” pg. E14, col. 2:
Calling all parents. You’ll recognize yourselves (and your sweet little darlings) in the following collection. It appears in “The Dictionary According to Mommy,” by Joyce Armor. The book was published by Meadowbrook Press and was excerpted in the January issue of Working Mother Magazine.
(...)
Dumbwaiter: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

Google Groups: rec.humor
new mom’s dictionary
Kati Norris
11/17/91
MOTHER’S DICTIONARY:
AMNESIA: condition that enables a woman who has gone through labor to have sex again.
BOTTLE FEEDING: an opportunity for Daddy to get up at 2am too.
DEFENSE: what you’d better have around de yard if you’re going to let de children ply outside.
DROOLING: how teething babies wash their chins.
DUMBWAITER: one who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

Google Groups: bit.listserv.down-syn
Humor for parents (long)
Wildwards
5/3/97
>><< Dictionary for parents.

DUMBWAITER: one who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

Google Books
Laugh Out Loud:
A Selection of the Finest Internet Humour, Anecdotes and Wisdom

By Vivienne Smithdorf and Vanessa Wilson
Sandton, South Africa: Vsquared
2004
Pg. 18:
Dumbwaiter: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

Google Books
A Collection of Jokes and Funny Stories
Victoria, BC: Trafford
2004
By Marvin Lebman
Pg. ?:
DUMBWAITER: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

Twitter
Saronti
‏@saronti
Mother’s Dictionary of Meanings: Dumbwaiter: One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert. #jokesunday
3:02 PM - 22 Mar 2009

The Amazingly Lame Joke of the Day
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
What is a dumbwaiter?
One who asks if the kids care to order dessert.
Posted by Tim Wycislak at 5:38 AM

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Sunday, May 15, 2016 • Permalink