Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Joey Bag O' Donuts

Last week I had lunch at Moe's Southwest Grill for the first time. If you've never been there, the menu is simialr to Qdoba, Baja Fresh, or, in New York, Green Cactus. You know the type of place I'm talking about: made-to-order southwest style burritos sold as health food. Promoted as using all fresh ingredients, with no frozen foods, no canned goods, no preservatives, no microwaves and no lard or animal fat.

So anyway, the offerings at Moe's are a bit more extensive, with quesadillas and fajitas as well as frozen margaritas, but what really makes Moe's unique is how they name their menu items. I have to be honest here and admit that there's few things a restaurant can do to appeal to me more than creatively naming their menu items. Moe's menu is hilarious! It's filled with jokes and pop culture references - for Seinfeld fans there's a burrito called the Art Vandalay and a salad called the Close Talker, for Friends fans there's a taco called The Ugly Naked Guy. For fans of the movie Fletch, order the John Coctosan, the Fat Sam or the Alfredo Garcia. There's also the I Said Posse quesadilla, and a hilarious fake menu item called a "Cup Of Fat" for $9.99.

But what had me cracking up the most was a burrito called the Joey Bag Of Donuts. I thought this was the funniest thing in the world, even though I wasn't sure I completely "got it." Almost everything else on teh menu is a pop culture reference, but what movie or TV show had a character called Joey Bag O' Donuts? Sounds like a mob name, but I don't remember it from Goodfellas or The Godfather. Is it a Sopranos reference?

So, the question: where does the name Joey Bag Of Donuts come from? I did some searching, and have so far been unable to come up with a conclusive answer. For instance:


- Remember the commercial for the classic rock radio station where there's an obese guy dancing in front of a brick wall? This exact same film clip ad was run against various songs for many different stations around the country, but the original use is credited to a station in Chicago called The Loop (WLUP) and the character name of the guy dancing (actually actor Eustachio Robert Marena, or is it Robert Miranda?) is supposedly named Joey Bagadonuts. Sorry, but that nickname seems to have been attached retroactively to me, since the ad has no mention of a character name.

- Wikipedia says it's a reference from My Cousin Vinny, but I think they're wrong.

-A rapper named Joey Bags claims he got his nickname from a doughnut shop in New York called Joey Bag A Donuts. I can't find any restaurant with that name. By the way, Joey Bags Productions allegedly brings REAL hip hop to the table. Judge for yourself.

-South Philly's "Waffleman" Joe Sbaraglia calls himself Bag-a-Donuts for some unexplained reason.

-There's a "set dresser" who works in Hollywood named Joe Monaco who, when he worked on the memorable Keanu Reeves film The Watcher, was credited as Joey 'Bag O' Donuts' Monaco.

-Seems like a lot of other people are wondering the same thing as me.

- The most likely origination is that it may have come from one of stand-up comic's Dom Irrera's routines. I've never seen his act but apparently part of it is telling stories about the old neighborhood and one of his old buddies was nicknamed Joey Bag O' Donuts. Irrera says that John Madden nicknamed Frank Winters "Frankie Bag of Doughnuts" after seeing his act, but comics always seem to claim that everyone is stealing from them.


Well, wherever the name originated, it seems to have seemed into our collective consciousness. Any stereotypical Italian guy, especially an overweight one, might be stickered with the moniker. In fact, if it's YOUR nickname, you can now even buy a T-Shirt with the phrase. I still think it's hysterical and will be laughing to myself when I order it at my next trip to Moe's.

20 comments:

David said...

There was a dart player in the '70's named Joe Baltadonis (nicknamed Bag o donuts). I wonder if he was the inspiration for the menu item

David
grateful_dad_68@yahoo.com

Rob said...

The real answer to this question comes from what MOE'S stands for. It is an acronym. M = Musicians (Moe's plays famous/dead musicians on their stereo), O = Outlaws (Moe is a bit of a rebel apparently), E = Entertainers (the menu is made up of saying from famous entertainers). That is why you have references from Seinfeld, Back to School, Caddy Shack, etc. on their menu. I think the My Cousin Vinny is most likely the correct answer in this case.

Anonymous said...

okay so the reference of Joey Bag of Donuts comes from Mike Birbiglia's 'Secret Public Journal comedy special. He got like his first job saying that he was is Joeys brother...aka Joey bag of donuts cause he always brought a bag of donuts to the job. Not sure if the story was true or just a bit but that is where it came from.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URU33qxPtPU
Dom Irrera, How to Speak Italian.
First place I heard reference to Joe Baggadonuts.

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard the name "Joe bag o Donuts" Was in 1981. The brother of my girlfriend at that time was called that by his uncle. It was his nickname since his youth and he was born in 1964. I laughed when his uncle said it so I asked his uncle why the "Bag o Donuts" He said it was something his father used to call him and his buddies when he was a kid. So now that puts the name back as far as the 1940s. If I were to guess, I'd say that it came from the WWI era, maybe relating to the term "doughboys", a nickname given to the US soldiers fighting in WWI.

Anonymous said...

I always had the idea this was based on the name Jonas Bagdonas, an important figure in 20th century Lithuanian history. I'd have a hard time proving I was right. Or wrong, for that matter. Probably coincidence.

mitch said...

What I know joey bag o' donuts from is a mike birbiglia bit about working at a restaurant. It was a place his brother joe used to worked at. He told his co-workers that his brother joe once was an employee. they responded by saying "joey bag o' donuts is your brother, we love that guy." Mike later asks his brother how he got the nickname and his brother said that joey bags was this other guy. Mike lived in fear that the real joey bags would show up one day and be like, "that fag's not my brother". Thus humiliating Mike.

Anonymous said...

i'm hungover and just puked. you made me puke twice when i read "lard and animal fat." i didn't read the rest of the article. just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

the teamsters in local 706 - chicago - used to use that name when they were asked who did something stupid. as in, "I dunno but I think JOey Bagadonuts forgot to lock the truck>

Anna said...

I just watched a (pretty awful) documentary from 1997 on Netflix called The Unexplained: Hauntings. Joey Bagadonuts is listed in the credits.

Dylan Rottkov said...

The definitive answer is: Joey baga' donuts was created by Jim Pyduck, an actor and comedian who was friends with Dom Irrera, who also hailed from south Philly, and who gave the character to Dom for a gig on the tonight show with Johnny Carson. Ask Dom. He'll tell you.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember Dom using that Name. back in the day. Maybe others, too. It probably goes back quite a ways and came from a real last name that sounds similar.

Anonymous said...

Now that I see Dylan Rottkov's comment, I remember a Cousin of My Mom's from Philly who used that Nickname while telling me a story on the train as we were passing through Newark on the way to NYC !!!

Anonymous said...

and that was in 1970.

Anonymous said...

OK the real Name of Joey bag of donut comes from The TV show Friends. Joey's chair Joey's Bag of Donut. It was in one of the shows. And that's a fact.

Anonymous said...

Okay I know this post is really old but I just started working at a Moe's that just opened in our town & the corporate trainer they sent said what I saw one person say on here, that it's a reference to an episode of Friends. However, my mom has been a huge fan of Friends since it first aired, so I have seen every episode multiple times, & I do not recall this at all. I've even Googled it & can't find anything about this scene. If someone could post the scene I'd be more inclined to believe that's what the name references.
All I know is when I heard the name Joey Bag Of Donuts, I thought the same thing a couple people suggested here; a stand-up bit by comedian Mike Birbiglia. I have no idea what it actually references but the Mike Birbiglia bit is my favorite & I'm sticking to it. This is a clip of the bit, though it's from a newer special of his but he's been doing this bit for as long as I can remember.
http://youtu.be/Mq2ypSqPEmk

Anonymous said...

I was nicknamed Joeybagodonuts in 1986 after getting arrested outside a dunkin donuts.. didnt have insurance and my freinds that bailed me out asked why I was driving late at night.
later, when I was getting my stuff I went ballistic because my donuts werent in my property, I figured if I spent a night in jail for those donuts? they damn sure should have been there.
by the early 90's I was on line and giving advice under the nickname .
I dont know of anyone who had it before me, now it seems to be everywhere.
due to the fact Im a businessman and what I did in my childhood is long behind me, Im going to post anonymous. my friends know the deal.
Joeybagodonuts...

Anonymous said...

side note to anonymous about the doughboys, my great uncle was a war hero, landed at Omaha on d-day, I have his ww2 lighter inscribed, I had it apprasied and found out it was very rare and called a doughboy after the ww1 soldiers, its a ronson mark 7 and all metal went to the war effort so civlians didnt get lighters during ww2... he went on to become a union leader in Newark NJ , he had two purple hearts and was featured in wierd NJ during his "retirement" years for working at Jimmy Buffs hot dogs.
Joeybagodonuts

Lady Katie said...

Joey Bag o' Donuts is a common phrase in Philly by italian americans to call someone tubby, so it could be from a variety of places - but in My Cousin Vinny it was Vinny Bag of Donuts.

Mike Birbiglia's skit is where I heard it for the first time. He was Joey Bag's brother, as someone previously mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I am an assistant store manager at a Moe's in Virginia and all of yoy do have some very clever ideas as to where the name comes from! But of course it's from the hit 90s show about 6 friends growing up in New York City that aired for 10 seasons- Friends. If you're a Friend's fan you'll know exactly which episode Joey Bag of Donuts comes from. Remember when Joey bus moving out of his and Chandler's apartment and is claiming items such as the the chair, table, and the infamous bag of donuts sitting on the counter in the kitchen as he's walking out the door.