Meat on the Beach

(Eventually, significant talk about the lexicon of men’s genitalia, so not to everyone’s taste.)

From the annals of remarkable commercial names, this name of — surprise!* — a gourmet grocery store in Toronto, in the news recently because it closed after 24 years in business. [* Note: a surprise, of course, only to non-Torontonians; to locals, it’s not only familiar, but semantically unremarkable (see below).]

Two things here: the relatively straightforward playful half-rhyme meat – beach: /mit – bič/, with stop /t/ vs. affricate /č/ (both voiceless coronal obstruents); and the complex playfulness of the name — with possible sexual double entendres involving meat and with the carefree associations of beaches, often evoking sex as well (and giving rise to the cocktail name Sex on the Beach).

(Hat tip to Alex Jaker.)

About the grocery store. From the Beach Metro community news site, in “Meat on the Beach closes doors after 24 years of operation on Queen Street East” by Alan Shackleton on 1/4/20:


(#1) Exterior of the store when it was still a going concern (Facebook photo)

Local gourmet grocery store Meat on the Beach [at 1860 Queen St. E., just west of Woodbine Ave.] has closed its doors after 24 years in business along Queen Street East.

The store’s last day of business was on Friday, Jan. 3.

Owner Anna Skalko said there were a number of reasons why she decided to close, but wanted to make it clear that the cost of rent was not one of them. “The rent was not a deciding factor,” she said.

“I don’t know what to say. Every season has an end and small business is getting tougher and tougher,” said Skalko in an interview with Beach Metro News on Jan. 3.

She said that the “economic climate is tough” for all small businesses right now and competition from big box retail outlets was taking a toll.

Meat on the Beach has been in business in the community for almost a quarter of a century selling groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, and fresh meats at its butcher counter.

The Beach. From Wikipedia:


(#2) The local map (from Wikipedia)

The Beaches (also known as “The Beach”) is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is so named because of its four beaches situated on Lake Ontario. It is located east of downtown within the “Old” City of Toronto. The approximate boundaries of the neighbourhood are from Victoria Park Avenue on the east to Kingston Road on the north, to Coxwell Avenue on the west, south to Lake Ontario. The Beaches is part of the east-central district of Toronto.

It has a commercial district with many small specialty stores; side streets with Victorian and Edwardian houses; an extensive park system; and the beaches themselves, with a long boardwalk along them.

More generally, beaches are associated with carefree recreation in minimal clothing, so of course they have sexual connotations. In particular, there’s a substantial subgenre of gay porn set in beach locations (Fire Island especially).

The meat. As far as the grocery store was concerned, the meat was just what was offered in its butcher department. But of course it was foregrounded in the name as a sexual double entendre (as well as for its excellent phonological properties). From my 1/19/17 posting “Meaty matters”

Yesterday, a posting about a fantasy agency supplying male hustlers, featuring two meat + N compounds: meat market ‘sexual marketplace’ and meatmen ‘men considered as sexual objects’ (as bodies as wholes, but especially as assemblages of sexual parts — cock, balls, and ass). The interplay of two senses of meat here (the body, especially the male body, as a whole vs. the central masculine bodypart, the penis) led me to two joking uses of meat, in a Pat Byrnes New Yorker cartoon from 2001 (in which the ‘animal flesh as food’ sense of meat is central) and a piece of advice on the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss from Joseph Francis some years ago (in which the ‘body as sexual object’ sense is central).


(#3) The Byrnes cartoon

And the quote from Joe Francis, directed at gay men:

Remember; you’re not just a man, you’re also a piece of meat.

The Byrnes turns fairly simply on the primary sense of meat. From NOAD2:

the flesh of an animal (especially a mammal) as food

(In a while, we’ll get to double entendres involving this sense.)

… on figurative developments from the primary sense, from GDoS:

1 a body, usu. a woman’s, as an object of sexual pleasure [1st cite 1515-16; in the gay world, the body in question is usually a man’s, as in the Francis quote] [sense 1 allows an extension for use as ‘(piece of) beefcake, malehunk’, though this sense isn’t separately listed in GDoS]

2 (also lump of meat, piece of meat) the penis [1st cite c. 1564]

3 the vagina [1st cite 1611]

The sense development in 2 is presumably metaphorical — penis as like a piece of meat — while the development in 3 is pretty much a classic whole-for-(central)-part metonymy.

meat ‘body’. From a 5/1/16 posting with a caption for a shot of a man in his underwear:

He scrutinized himself pitilessly in the
Mirror, as a piece of meat to feed the
Hot guys

The development is from meat as food, providing one kind of pleasure, to meat as providing other sorts of pleasures — visual, tactile, sexual.

That brings us to the compounds meat market and meat rack, referring to places where bodies are made available to others. From GDoS:

meat market as a place, usu. for sexual encounters:

(a) a rendezvous for prostitutes of either sex [first cite 1896]

(b) (US) any situation or place where people are regarded as commodities, such as a recruiting agency ior a modelling agency [first cite 1941]

(c) anywhere that people gather for the primary purpose of finding sexual partners [first cite 1957, in a college context]

(d) in fig. use, the world of commercial sexuality [first cite 1967]

meat rack (orig. gay) a place, such as a bar or a particular street, where homosexuals display their charms to potential customers [this should be revised to “potential sexual partners”, since the encounters are not necessarily commercial]. After the ‘singles bar’ explosion of the 1970s, the term was extended to heterosexuality. [1st cite 1963, from John Rechy’s City of Night, referring to a cruisy L.A. park; 2nd 1978 from Larry Kramer’s Faggots, referring to the hook-up area of Fire Island Pines on the Long Island NY coast]

meat ‘penis’. Very common uses here in the (rhyming) slang idiom beat one’s meat ‘masturbate, jack off’ and the slang idiom eat s.o.’s meat ‘fellate s.o., suck s.o.’s cock’. The latter has been the source of numerous double entendres on the ‘food’ sense of meat

Meanwhile, back in Toronto, Meat on the Beach surely became, for many locals, just a name, whose sexual playfulness was no longer particularly salient. Names are like that.

One Response to “Meat on the Beach”

  1. Arnold Zwicky Says:

    From Tim Evanson on Facebook, this image, with the comment: “A stalwart among hot sauces”:

    A source for the sauce: Chilly Chiles on-line store

    with this description:

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