Lumberjack Culinary Lingo

Logging in 1912, Minnesota
Logging in 1912, Minnesota

Unlike cowboy lingo, lumberjack lingo did not add many words to the pantheon of American spoken English.  Nevertheless, this fascinating list of terms — used by lumberjacks to describe food and items associated with food and cooking — proves highly entertaining. Notice the meaning of “pregnant woman pie,” for one.

Axle Grease: butter

Bait Can: lunch bucket

Bean Burner: a bad cook

Bull cook (also derogatorily called  the crumb boss): a boy who performed chores around camp, such as sweeping up the bunkhouse, cutting wood for fuel, filling wood boxes, and feeding the livestock

Boiler: a bum cook – one who generally boiled his food

Devil’s Cup: a tin cup without a handle which would become extremely hot when filled with coffee or tea

Flunkey: the person who served the meals in the logging camp

Fly Bread: raisin bread

Hardtack outfit: a company running a logging camp which provides substandard food (derived from the cheap and long-lasting cracker or bread of the same name)

Hashhouse: the cookhouse

Hash Rassler: a flunkey or cookee

Kitchen Mechanic: the dishwasher

Monkey Blankets: pancakes

Mud: coffee

Mug Up: having a cup of coffee

Mulligan Mixer: cook

Nose Bag: cold lunch eaten in the woods

Nosebag show: a camp where the midday meal is taken to the woods in lunch buckets

Overland Trout: bacon

Pass the 44’s: pass the beans

Pregnant woman pie: a dried-apple pie – named because the apples swell up when cooked

Shoepack pie:  a vinegar-lemon pie (like lemon meringue pie without the meringue), named because it looked like the bottom of the rubber boots worn by some of the lumberjacks

Skid Grease: butter

Sow belly: salt pork

Sweat pads: pancakes – because they looked like the pads placed between a horse’s neck/shoulder and collar to keep the horse from getting sore and to soak up sweat

Tar: really bad coffee


Cookshack Cooking, by Forest History Center, Grand Rapids, MN (pamphlet)

Lumberjack Lingo, by Leland George Sorden (1969)