Posted by ESC on May 29, 2007
In Reply to: Cake eaters posted by ESC on May 29, 2007
: : : What is the meaning of the phrase "cake eaters"? I kind of understand the having your cake and eating it too, but this one is a little confusing. So if anyone knows please fill me in on this one.
: : Sounds confusing all right. One is reminded of the Marie Antoinette quip "let them eat cake", when told the poor had no bread. So are cake eaters rich because they can afford cake, or is this an ironic reference to the poor?
: : A more straightforward term for the unfortunate is "cake sniffers", a favorite taunt of the odious child-villian Carmelita Spats who first appeared in The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket. The implication is that the cake sniffer is too poor to afford to buy cake and can only smell it in the air as they pass the bakery.
: Picture a man at a ladies' tea party, eating a bit of cake on a delicate plate. As near as I can tell from entries online, it was a 1920s phrase for a dandy or an effeminate man. See image at http://www.indiana.edu/~jah/teaching/2001_03/sources/image_cake_eater.shtml
Cake-eater - ".a term whose first recorded use is attributed to Thomas Dorgan (TAD) in his comic strip of November 17, 1918, and described by 'The Flapper's Dictionary' as '.any guy who is addicted to noodle juice parties, one who nibbles at cakes at such parties. One who wears his mop up his sleeve, opposite to a he-man. A sissy." Page 30. Noodle juice = tea. Mop = handkerchief. Page 16. "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996). ".an impecunious youth who spent a lot of time at tea parties and other places where free food was an offer. Also called a 'heavy-cake' or 'tea-hound." Page 29. "The Twenties" chapter in "Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers: A Decade by Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century" by Rosemarie Ostler (Oxford University Press, New York, 2003).
Impecunious = habitually poor. I had to look that up.