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Americanisms

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Place names sometimes leave a mark not only on the map, but on the language. A few classic examples (we welcome more):

Adirondack chair - The sloped-back lawn chair originated in this part of northern New York, but was first known as the Westport chair, for the community on Lake Champlain

Alabama egg - Egg fried in the hollow middle of a slice of bread

Albany beef - An outdated term for the sturgeon that once flourished in the Hudson River.

Arizona strawberries - A cowboy phrase for beans.

Arkansas toothpick - A large bowie knife.

Arkansas travels - Diarrhea.

Baked Alaska - This seeming oxymoron is a dessert of ice cream covered with cake, pastry or meringue and baked in a hot oven. The name reputedly was coined at Delmonico's Restaurant, in recognition of the newly acquired territory.

Boston baked beans - Prepared with molasses and pork, Boston beans were a Saturday-night tradition for many New Englanders.

Boston cream pie - Not really a pie but a cake. Designated by the Massachusetts Legislature as the official state dessert.

Bronx cheer - A sputtering, often splattering, sound of disapproval, generally traced to Yankee Stadium.

Buffalo wings - There are many legends about the fiery finger food; the most popular places its origins at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY.

California collar - Hangman's noose. Other favorites from frontier days:
  California banknote - A cowhide.
  California prayer book - A deck of cards.

Cape Cod turkey - Codfish, from the era when the fishing industry ruled.

Cape Codder - A refreshing drink of cranberry juice and vodka.

Charleston - The dance, believed to have been around since the mid-19th century, was made popular by the "Ziegfeld Follies" in 1923.

Cincinnati oysters - Pigs' feet, for the local packing plants.

Colorado Kool-aid - Coors beer.

Coney Island - A hot dog smothered in chili. Curiously, in New York state, a Coney Island is sometimes called a Michigan.

Denver boot - Not footwear for the urban cowboy, but a device clamped to the wheel of a parked vehicle, to prevent its driver from skedaddling before he pays all those overdue parking tickets.

Denver omelet - Prepared with ham, onions and green pepper. Easterners usually refer to the dish as a "western omelet."

Florida room - A sun room or lounge with big windows. (Arizonans often call these "Arizona rooms.")

Full Cleveland - As defined by The New York Times (June 20, 2004), an outfit consisting of "a matching white belt and shoes (preferably worn with a powder-blue leisure suit)." In Canada, the look is called a full Nanaimo.

Georgia ice cream - Grits.

Kansas sheep dip - Whiskey.

Louisville slugger - Baseball bat invented in 1884 by apprentice woodworker J.A. "Bud" Hillerich and made famous by baseball greats Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb.

Manhattan clam chowder - Tomato-based chowder, as opposed to the milky Cape Cod version.

Manhattan - Cocktail (of whiskey, vermouth and bitters), actually invented in Queens.

Michigan bankroll - A wad of bills, with a large denomination on the outside and smaller denominations on the inside. Also called Oklahoma bankroll or Philadelphia bankroll.

Mississippi mud pie - A rich chocolate dessert, often with graham-cracker crust.

Nebraska brick - A square of prairie sod used to build a sod house.

New York minute - In the city that never sleeps, this is just a blink of an eye. (Also the title of a Don Henley song and a 2004 movie starring the Olsen twins.)

Oklahoma rain - Sandstorm.

Philly cheese steak - Grilled beef on an Italian roll with melted cheese. The city's signature dish is believed to have been invented by a local hot dog vendor named Pat Olivieri.

Rhode Island red - A breed of chicken known for its red feathers and brown eggs.

Santa Ana - A strong, hot wind in southern California, for the Santa Ana Mountains.

Saratoga - A lady's traveling trunk, named for the spa in upstate New York.

Springfield - A rifle made in Springfield, MA. The Springfield Armory manufactured arms for the U.S. military from 1794 to 1968.

Texas tea - Oil, as immortalized in the Ballad of Jed Clampett.

Texas turkey - Armadillo.

Texas toast - Thick sliced bread, buttered, toasted and usually served with chicken-fried steak.

Tuxedo - The jacket was actually named for the affluent community in New York.

West Virginia coleslaw - Chewing tobacco.

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