Posted by Smokey Stover on February 10, 2004
In Reply to: Slinging hash posted by ESC on February 10, 2004
: : : Hi...can you please tell me what this means and how the term came to popularity? Thanks, Sax
: : It means working in a restaurant. Not sure about when it emerged.
: ".Such cheaper eating places also flourished after the Civil War and were being called 'hash houses' and 'lunch stands' by the late 1860s, 'lunch counters' by 1873, 'lunch joints' by the 1880s, 'snack bars' by 1895, and finally 'luncheonettes' by the mid 1930s. A dishwasher or kitchen helper at a cheap restaurant had been called a 'pot wrestler' as early as 1840 and a 'pot-walloper' by 1860, and a waiter or waitress was called a 'hash slinger' by 1868 and was said to 'sling hash' by 1872." From "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982). Hash is "chopped food; specifically: chopped meat mixed with potatoes and browned," according to Merriam-Webster online.
Around the University of California, Berkeley, a kitchen or dining room worker, at least one in a fraternity or sorority, was called a hasher, and the job was called hashing. I don't know how wide a geographic range this term had. (Pancakes, by the way, were called hotcakes in Berkeley.) Chopped food had nothing to do with hashing, of course, except incidentally, as was the case with slinging hash. SS