Money is a critical part of life and culture, so it’s no surprise that we have developed many food slang words for it. One of the most common types of slang for money is food-related. From dough to lettuce and even cake, these slang words all have one thing in common: They are used to refer to money. But where did these food slang words come from? Let’s take a look back in history to find out.
Culinary Colloquialisms for Currency
Throughout history, people have used food-related slang words to refer to money. This is because of the many similarities between money and food – they are both necessary for survival, they can be exchanged, and they often come in various denominations. So let’s take a look at some of the most popular food-based expressions for finances.
This tasty meat is often associated with breakfast, but it can also refer to money. In this case, “bacon” is used as a slang term for cash or paper money. This term originated in the United States in the 1800s, when bacon was a commodity traded for money. The Merriam-Webster dictionary even defines “bring home the bacon” as “to earn money that is needed to live.”
The term “biscuit” is often used as a slang word for money in the UK. It’s thought that the phrase originated with the Royal Navy, where ships would often serve biscuits alongside their meals. Eventually, the word “biscuit” was used to refer to a sailor’s pay, since they would need to purchase the biscuits themselves while out at sea. Over time, this phrase was shortened to “biscuits” and began to be used as a slang word for money in the UK.
The word “bread” has been used to refer to money since the 1700s. It’s believed that this term originated with the phrase “to break bread,” which was used to describe a shared meal or an act of hospitality. The phrase eventually became associated with spending money, as people would need to “break bread” in order to purchase food or other goods. Over time, the phrase was shortened simply to “bread,” and began being used as a slang term for money.
The cabbage analogy makes sense: in a packet of cash, it’s possible to see some leaves that look like cabbage leaves next to each other.
Although the origin of this slang term is somewhat unclear, another thought is that this term came from the old expression “cabbage-head,” which was a term used in reference to people who were considered stupid or foolish. Over time, the phrase was shortened to just “cabbage” and began being used as a slang term for money, likely because of the association between stupidity and spending too much money.
This slang term for money is thought to have originated around the same time as the word “cheese,” back in the early 1800s. It may have come from the phrase “easy as cake,” which was used to describe something that was easy or not too difficult. Another possible origin is that the term comes from a kind of cake called “pound cake,” which was often baked with a pound (or 16 ounces) of butter and flour.
No matter what the origin, cake has been used as a slang term for money in the US since at least the 1950s. So the next time someone asks you if you have enough cake, they might not be talking about baking!
The word “cheese” is another popular slang term for money that has been used since at least the early 1800s. It’s believed to have come from two separate sources; one being the phrase “big cheese,” which was often used in reference to people of high social or financial stature, and the other being a slang term meaning “easy money,” which was often used in relation to gambling.
According to C;heese, cheese has been slang for money in the US since at least the 1960s. The term comes from when food stamp recipients received what was called “government cheese.” And, it was literally cheese. To try and get rid of a surplus of milk, the government created an unappetizing type of cheese that was given to those receiving food stamps.
So, when someone asked you if you got your cheese yet, they were referring to actual cheesy goodness. But because it came from food stamps, over time it became synonymous with cash or other forms of currency.
7. Blue Cheese
This slang term for money is an offshoot of the regular “cheese” nickname. “Blue cheese” was first used in the early 1900s as a way of referring to counterfeit money. The phrase is thought to have come from the blue paper that was used to print fake bills during that time. It may also be in reference to the new $100 bill that introduced in 2009 that has a blue hue to it.
The term cheddar is believed to have originated in the late 1800s and was used as a slang word for money by the British. This could be because cheddar cheese was so expensive during this time period that it became associated with being wealthy. Another theory suggests that “cheddar” comes from an old English expression meaning “to make cash.” Whatever the case may be, cheddar is now a widely used slang term for money and shows no signs of fading away.
The word clams is a slang term for money that has been used in various parts of the world since at least the early 1900s. It’s thought that this term comes from the American phrase “a clamshell full of money,” which was used to describe a large sum of money. It’s also possible that the term originated from an old expression meaning “to be silent,” which referred to avoiding talking about how much money one has or earns.
The origin of the word dough is somewhat unclear but it’s thought that it may have evolved from the British expression “dough-faced,” which was often used in reference to someone who appeared wealthy due to their high social status. Another theory is that dough comes from an old term meaning cake mix—which makes sense given how both cakes and money can be made into any shape you desire! Whichever origin story you subscribe too, there’s no denying that this slang term for money has been around for centuries now and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon!
While this leafy green vegetable might not seem like it has much in common with money, “lettuce” is a popular slang term for folding money. You might hear someone say, “I paid her with lettuce” when referring to the cash payment they made. The term originated in the UK in the early 20th century, and is still in use today. Why? It’s thought that when someone hands over a stack of bills, it looks like a head of lettuce!
This is a relatively new slang term for money that has been used since the early 2000s. It’s thought to have originated from an old expression “raining lobsters,” which was used to describe something that was incredibly luxurious or expensive.
It’s also possible that the term comes from the idea that lobsters, as a type of seafood, are considered a delicacy and can be quite expensive.
In Australia, people call a $20 bill a “lobster” because of its red color.
Pasta is a slang term for money that dates back to the mid-1900s. It’s thought that this phrase came from the Italian phrase “fare la pasta,” which translates to “make dough” or “to earn money.”
The phrase could also be related to the Italian phrase “tutta la pasta,” which means “all the dough” or “all the money.” This could be because when someone has a lot of money, they have a “big pasta bowl” full of cash.
No matter where the phrase came from, it’s now used in the US and other English-speaking countries to refer to money. So next time someone asks you if you have enough pasta, they might not be talking about dinner!
The Australian $50 bill is yellow and brightly colored, which makes it stand out amongst other banknotes. It’s informally referred to as a “pineapple,” in line with the country’s creative money naming tradition.
Beans, or “beaners” as they are sometimes called, have been used for centuries to refer to coins. This slang could have been derived from the idea that coins are round and look like beans. Alternatively, it could be a reference to the fact that they used to be made out of various types of metal, including brass and copper, which were often referred to as “beans” in the past.
According to Urban Dictionary, a “bean” is used in reference to a $100 bill.
Lettuce, bread, dough, cheese, cheddar and cabbage have been around for centuries now as food slang words for money. Whether they originated from old English expressions or became associated with wealth and food, these terms are still popular today and show no signs of disappearing anytime soon. So next time you hear someone talking about cheese, you’ll know they aren’t referring to actual cheese—they’re talking about money!