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.