Origin of "Blue Plate Special" [Moved from Manhattan Board]
Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "Blue Plate Special"? I grew up in the restaurant business and the only thing I can recall is the "Daily Special(s)". My parent's neighbourhood restaurant closed at 6 p.m. and the daily specials were generally the 'lunches' (There were a lot of small businesses in the area...it was definately not a place for 'the ladies who do Lunch)
Since there is no truly blue food, it was found that the color blue sharply contrasted all foods, making portions appear larger than those served on a standard white plate. In this way, the restauranteur could serve smaller portions at a reduced price while having the customer believe he/she was receiving a great value.
I heard the term when I was a kid, though it was outdated even then, and I always understood it to have come from a blue glass plate (the dark color of a Bromo-seltzer bottle), with ridges dividing the plate into three pie-slice-shaped areas. You'd get meat and two sides. The concept is common throughout the US. Hawaii has the plate lunch, and just about any restaurant that serves Southern cooking will give you your choice of two sides with your order. In the blue plate special, you didnt get a choice of sides though.