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In Pulp Fiction, when Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace are ordering their meals at Jack Rabbit Slim's, their waiter (dressed as Buddy Holly) asks Mia if she wants her $5 milkshake "Martin and Lewis or Amos 'n Andy". This reference to a white and a black comedy duo is widely understood to be a question whether she wants a vanilla or a chocolate milkshake.

Was this — at any time — common slang? Or did Quentin Tarantino invent this for the film?

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I found no reference about this expression being common language or slang. I think of it as a "Tarantinoism". You can understand it three (or more) ways. Most common is:

  • 1 - Would you prefer your milkshake with vanilla ice-cream (Martin & Lewis) or chocolate ice-cream (Amos 'n Andy)?

But, knowing QT clever, subtle and twisted mind and humour (plus great cinema culture), you can also think it's another way of asking if Mia prefers:

  • 2 a) - Marsellus Wallace (her husband - black)
  • 2 b) - Vincent Vega (her crush - white)

I've read somewhere (can't recall where) that it could also be about the milkshake itself, not just the flavour. As DM & JL made much more money than A&A (they were a "bigger duo"), the question was about the size, ingredients and extras.

  • 3 - a "white" milkshake would be bigger (think L (regular) vs XL), and have more topping(s) (more rich) than the "black" one.
  • 3 - b (to be taken with a grain of salt IMO) : it was about the kind of chocolate, if Mia would rather have white or dark chocolate.

Knowing QT, I'd bet on all three options, with a little bit of them grouped in a clever and subtle way. He loves Blaxploitation and Amos n' Andy (last paragraph of the source), I would say it's nothing at all like racism or cultural appropriation, even if African-American could probably see that as offensive, or worse.

Mia's milkshake

Additional Note: Amos n' Andy was first a radio sitcom by Freeman Gosden ('Amos') and Charles Correll ('Andy'). While the show had a brief life on 1950s television with black actors, the 1928 to 1960 radio show was created, written and voiced by the two white actors. Thus the blakfaced actors on the picture.

TV cast of The Amos 'n' Andy Show TV cast of The Amos 'n' Andy Show (1951–53). Spencer Williams (Andy), Tim Moore (Kingfish), and Alvin Childress (Amos). Picture from Wikipedia.

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  • Is it just me or does the pic of Amos n' Andy look like blackface? ;) Jun 25, 2023 at 16:09
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    In the 1930's Movies Amos and Andy were played by actors in blackface. In the 1950s TV show they were played by black actors (but the show was still criticized by the NAACP). Given that Jack Rabbit Slims is a 50s themed restaurant, it was probably the TV show that was being referred to here.
    – iandotkelly
    Jun 25, 2023 at 18:36

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