What It Means To Order 'Adam And Eve On A Raft' At A Diner

If anything screams "Americana," it's the image of a 1950s-style diner clad in fire-engine-red vinyl, chrome, neon, and checkered floors. Double that if a waitress named Flo barks out orders to a grumpy short-order cook, using food-inspired phrases that are mysterious at best and borderline offensive at worst. Though originally lacking in glamor and sophistication, retro diners now pull at the heartstrings of anyone pining for so-called simpler days. Drop a dime in a jukebox, order a milkshake with two straws, and stare dreamily into the eyes of your heartthrob crush, right?

Maybe this is all possible if you're binging "Happy Days," but in reality, many diners of yesteryear were busy workday eateries or highway pit-stops on long and lonely road trips. Diner menus could contain as many as 100 items with various ways to order them, explains Alta Language Services, giving rise to shortcut diner slang and creative license between server and short-order chef. Many diners still exist in today's culinary scene, some throwbacks to actual everyday grab-a-bite diners and others popular for re-created mid-century décor and menus.

Fortunately, some of the eclectic diner lingo has survived, even trickling into the modern vocabulary. For example, phrases like "cup o' Joe" and "sunny side up" eggs reportedly sprang from the network of hurried "Flo" servers fueling the now-nostalgic American diners. Then there's the curious phrases such as "Adam and Eve on a raft" and the inevitable sidekicks.

Shipwreck that order

The diner phrase "Adam and Eve on a raft" is an expansion on the simple "Adam and Eve" order, which refers to two eggs, typically poached but sometimes fried, explains Barry Popick, a contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary. Putting them on a raft means the order also includes toast. A printed reference to Adam and Eve on a raft appeared as early as 1891, possibly traced to a restaurant in New York's Bowery area.

Other origin stories from Boston, Philadelphia, and Omaha cropped up in the late 1890s, noted in archived newspaper sourcing such as "Chronicling America." Variations or extensions of the phrase include "Adam and Eve on a log," indicating the addition of link sausage. Following is the famous "Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck em'" or "Shipwreck that order!" That means toast and two eggs, scrambled. An 1890 article in "The Sun" reveals more diner vernacular for scrambling the eggs, including storm-tossed, agitated eggs, and eggs around the curve.

Alta Language Services explains how biblical references were fairly common in early cryptic diner lingo, especially with Adam and Eve, the first humans per the biblical story. For example, when a customer orders ribs, the callout is "gimme a First Lady," a nod to the notion that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Since Eve's purported first sin was to eat a forbidden apple from the Garden of Eden, a diner order for apple pie would be "Eve with a lid on it."