Dairy Queen Gets Fancy With a 'Cloche'

Impress your friends with a new word as you wait for your Blizzard

Cloche spiked on June 5, 2017, after a Dairy Queen commercial used the word to express the fanciness of its bacon cheeseburger lunch special. In the commercial, a group of DQ employees listen to a colleague who announces that the new lunch special is “so fancy, I’d like to serve it with a cloche.” This leads to a beat of silence before one of the employees asks: “What’s a cloche?”

Cloche (pronounced \KLOHSH\) means “a bell- or dome-shaped cover,” used for clear glass or plastic covers for plants that protect them from frost or the covers used for serving food (sometimes called a bell jar). It can also mean “a woman’s close-fitting hat usually with deep rounded crown and narrow brim.” Yet another meaning refers to musical bells played by striking with a mallet (also referred to as chimes).

These meanings referring to the shape or sound of bells are references to the word’s etymology: it comes from the French word cloche, meaning “bell.” The earliest uses of cloche in English show both its gardening context and its French origins:

Were there space, we might introduce our readers to the Parisian market-gardens, never before so vividly and instructively described, with their eightfold rotation of crops, and the unfailing salad stuffs, which are due in great part to the “cloche” or “bell-glass,” which, as a gleaning from a French garden, Mr. Robinson has persuaded a London firm to manufacture for English use.
The Saturday Review (London), 10 July 1869

Lettuces and other things are forced under bell-glasses, and come into competition with the salad vegetables sent from Africa and the South of France, forced by the natural heat of the climate, and from Paris grown under bell-glasses (cloches) in that fertile market-garden district described by Mr. Jenkins in his “Notes on Market Gardening and Vine Culture in the North-West of France.”
The Farmer’s Magazine (London), 1880

Food terms derived from French are often used in order to seem fancy: it’s no accident that cuisine is a French borrowing (but, then again, so are restaurant, menu, chef, and fruit). This “fanciness” comes from the French tradition of haute cuisine, and is underscored by the sometimes unusual pronunciations of French food terms.

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