Blue Plate Special

Meanings of “Blue Plate Special”

The phrase “blue plate special” means a fixed priced meal or a meal provided at a fixed and reduced price.

Origin of “Blue Plate Special”

The phrase “blue plate special” is stated to have first appeared in a newspaper The Decatur Daily Review in its September 1924 publication where a food writer, Daniel Rogov, has claimed that it appeared in 1892 in the menu of a restaurant. Since then, it is being used in the same meanings as given above.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Blue-Plate Special  by Robert Winthrop

When I was newly married and adjusting to the life,
I went to see my mother and complained about my wife.
I wasn’t kind then to my wife I really must confess.
Her cooking wasn’t up to par; she left the sink a mess.
My mother listened carefully to all I had to say,
And then she smiled and gave advice I think of everyday.
Said she, “The object of one’s heart
Cannot be ordered a la carte.”

“You’ve bought the blue-plate special and you like the meat and bread.
The spinach is not to your taste; you’d like some peas instead.
The carrots may be overcooked, you’d like them crisp and sweet;
But you have bought a package and it comes to you complete.
You also must remember that your wife may have complaints;
She may not always worship you, for none of us are saints.
Yes, son, the object of one’s heart
Cannot be ordered a la carte.”

The above lines are a personal story of the writer’s marriage as he complains to his mother. The poem says that he wants his wife to prepare him food that makes him happy. However, he then asks his mother, laughs at his words. She tells him that he has bought a package, and it is complete in all respects. Then she tells him that he is not a saint as his wife may have complaints, too. Hence, his relationship with his wife is compared to the discounted special meal or ‘blue plate special’.

Example #2

Blue Special Plate by Edison Jennings

Pork chops, potatoes, beans, gravy, and grief,
seasoned to taste and shared by the dead girl’s
father and boyfriend, the table talk sparse,
the dead girl not much mentioned, especially
the dead part, or how she dumped the boyfriend
a week before she died. The boyfriend drank beer,
the father, iced tea. The boyfriend had plans,
the father did not. The brother came late
and skipped dinner (not hungry, he said),
went upstairs and cried (they seemed not to hear).
Then he came back and cleaned up his plate.
Then they all had coffee, ice cream, and pie.
Then they looked through a box of old photos
and then said goodbye, over and over again.

The poem is about the interaction between a father who had just lost his daughter and the boyfriend. After the young girl had died, they eat her favorite food while sharing their grief. As a family, they sit and talk about the boyfriend’s future and go through the old pictures. Here the phrase is indirectly used to compare the special meals they were supposed to eat but did not eat.

Example #3

Blue Plate by Jesse Lee Kercheval

The Blue Plate, a designer diner, opened,
all aluminum and curves. Inside,
the menu featured revived comfort foods–
meat loaf, mashed potatoes, a glass case full of pies.

The above lyrics tell about a new place explored by the speaker, which called ‘The Blue Plate’. He talks about the menu and the comfort food it has. However, it is not clear whether it is a package or sold at reduced prices.

Example #4

Blue Plate Special by Rick Altizer

Here you come, with something else that you want me to eat
I never thought about it much…but, hey, what are you feeding me?
And what’s that in your hand, you picked up off the floor?
Don’t tell me any more, no, no
(Come on) The blue plate special…
(Come on) Is yesterday’s chicken…
(Come on) Or the same thing with coleslaw
(Come on) So what were you thinking?

Perhaps, the singer has come to a well-known restaurant. He asks the waiter about the special menus and the discounted menu ‘the blue plate special’. Strangely, the singer is even okay with the food prepared a day before, as long as they had a discount.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Ronnie had a limited budget when he took his friends to an expensive restaurant. He asked the waiter for a blue plate special.”

Example #2: “We purchased a special tour package, which was like a blue plate special.”

Example #3: “Blue plate special is not really special; it is just a portion of food at reduced prices but is titled as special to trick customers.”

Example #4: “Once I am done with my chores, I want a blue plate special meal from my favorite restaurant.”

Example #5: “I am looking for a blue plate special because I don’t want to waste money on expensive dishes on the menu.”