There were probably as many designs for these portable pantries and kitchens as there were wagons, but the purpose was very much the same. Keeping the cowboys fed and happy over a long trail drive was the intent. No one works for long on an empty stomach, and isn't happy for long without some good grub to carry them through.
Something sweet from time to time was almost necessary and served as a real treat for those on the trail, I'm sure!
Some interesting names were given to the objects and dishes of the Chuckwagon. Here are just a few!
The pan in which cowboys placed their dirty dishes following a meal.
The large can in which cowboys scraped the food scraps before placing them in the wreck pan.
Cook’s last job of the evening:
Point the tongue of the chuckwagon toward the north so the herd could “follow the tongue” the next day.
Gut robber, greasy belly, biscuit shooter:
Cowboys names for both the ranch house and trail drive cook.
A hand full of coffee for every cup of water.
A rawhide apron attached to the underside of the chuckwagon in which wood and buffalo chips are stored for the dinner fire.
Why cooks threw dirty dishwater under chuckwagon:
This helped protect the cook’s domain by discouraging cowboys from taking a nap in the shade under the chuckwagon.
Cowboys are noted for developing their own vocabulary.
Sometimes it was because they couldn’t pronounce the word correctly as used in the language of origin. They were famous for perverting Spanish words.
Cowboys also named items because the item reminded them of something else. However they came about, cowboys had a vocabulary that was colorful and their own.
Below are some words used in reference to chuck, or for the non-cowboy, food, while they were on the trail.
Calf Slobbers –Meringue on a pie.
Fried Chicken – Bacon rolled in flour and fried.
Chuck Wagon Chicken – Fried bacon.
Charlie Taylor – A substitute for butter. A combination of molasses and bacon grease.
“Man at the Pot!” – Term yelled at a person pouring himself a cup of coffee. A cowboy’s way of saying, “Pour me a cup too.”
Spotted Pup – Cooking raisins in rice.
Stacked to a fill – Compliment to the chief following a great meal.
Dry Camp – A camp that has no water available.
Prairie or Mountain Oysters – Calf’s testicles.
Just goes to show you that many slang terms still in use today came from the era of the ol' faithful Chuckwagon!
Coffee in the kitchen this morning. I'll get us all some glazed donuts, OK?