41 Cowboy Slang Terms for Things You Eat and Drink

Cowboys in the Old West had all kinds of colorful terms for everyday items, from eggs (‘cackleberries’) to oysters (‘saltwater vegetables’) and beyond.
GaryAlvis/E+/Getty Images

If your bread wallet is empty, then you need to line the flue, knight the ribbons, and mosey to a beanery. Your cookie-pusher will know what you mean when you use these cowboy slang terms for food and drink items, collected from Legends of America’s Old West Slang Dictionary and Westopedia: The Language and Lore of Real America by Win Blevins.

1. Bear Sign


2. Overland Trout

2016 New York Taste Presented By Citi Hosted By New York Magazine
Cowboys called bacon “overland trout.” / Brian Ach/GettyImages


3. Blue John

Skimmed milk.

4. Boggy-top

A pie with no top crust.

5. Cackleberries

Wales Daily Life 2019
When cowboys wanted eggs, they asked for “cackleberries.” / Matthew Horwood/GettyImages


6. Charlie Taylor

A butter substitute made of sorghum or syrup mixed with fat. It wasn’t good, and apparently neither was Charlie Taylor, who was terrible enough to lend his name to the unpopular trail staple.

7. Hen-fruit Stir and Long Sweetenin’

Pancakes and molasses.

8. and 9. Horse Thief Special and Spotted Pup

Both of these terms referred to rice or tapioca pudding with raisins.

9., 10, and 11. Hot Rock, Sinker, and Doughgods

Biscuits on a cutting board
‘Hot rock’ was just one cowboy slang term for ‘biscuit.’ / rudisill/E+/Getty Images

All terms for biscuits.

12. Huckdummy

A biscuit with raisins, though, was called a “huckdummy.”

13. Love Apples

Canned tomatoes.

14. Music Roots

Sweet potatoes.

15. Mysteries

Sausage of any variety, so-called because that’s what they’re made of. (In the Victorian era, they were called “bags o’ mystery.”)

16. Bee-sweetenin’

honey in front of a yellow background
Why ask for honey when you can use ‘bee-sweetenin’’ instead? / Adela Stefan/500px/Getty Images


17., 18, and 19. Pecos Strawberries, Mexican Strawberries, and Whistle Berries

All terms used to refer to beans.

20. Roastineer

To “roast an ear” of corn over the fire while still in its husk.

21. Salt Horse

Corned beef. Just a reminder, corned beef doesn’t contain corn—it refers to how the meat is prepared.

22. Saltwater Vegetables

Oysters, Sydney Fish Market, Australia
If you’re a cowboy, call them “saltwater vegetables.” / Tim Graham/GettyImages

Oysters or clams.

22. and 23. Sipper and Texas Butter

Nicknames for gravy.

24. Skunk Eggs


25. Son-of-a-Gun Stew

Stew made of whatever is available and the organs of a recently-slaughtered calf. So-called because the son-of-a-gun young cattle can't keep up on the trail. If there were no womenfolk present, you’d call it “son-of-a-bitch stew.”

26. Wasp Nest


27., 28., 29., 30., and 31. Six-shooter Skink, Float a Horseshoe, Arbuckle’s, Brown Gargle, and Jamoka

Steaming Cup of Coffee
‘Jamoka’ was one possible cowboy slang term for coffee. / Found Image Holdings Inc/GettyImages

All of these rather colorful terms were cowboy words for coffee.

32., 33., and 34. Belly Wash, Soda Pop, and Black Water

If you were drinking really weak coffee, however, you’d use phrases like belly wash, soda pop, and black water to describe it.

35., 36., and 37. John Barleycorn, Purge, and Hop Juice

Carbon Dioxide Gas Shortage Affects Fizzy Drink Production
Cowboys had many excellent names for suds. / Dan Kitwood/GettyImages


38., 39, and 40. Nose Paint, Pop Skull, and Prairie Dew

All other names for whiskey. So were the phrases rebel soldier, red eye, snake pizen, tarantula juice, tongue oil, tonsil pain, tornado juice, busthead, bottled courage, family disturbance, gut warmer, and Kansas sheep dip.

41. A Boilermaker and His Helper

A shot of whiskey with a beer chaser.

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