The term, "cake eater" gets thrown around quite a bit here in Evansville when referring to people from the east side of town, or even the Newburgh area, but what does it mean, and why is it used in reference to the fine people who call the east side of town home? To the Google machine!

One could argue that while Evansville in and of itself is one city, it could easily be divided into two distinctly different towns. The west side and the east side. Where the line dividing the two lies depends on who you ask. As someone who is a born and bread west-sider, I used to say Fulton Avenue was the separation between the two. Then I got married and bought a house on the north side east of Fulton and the line magically relocated to Highway 41. However, I know people who believe St. Joe Avenue separates the two. These are generally the same people who try to avoid the east side at all costs as if it were carrying a flesh-eating virus.

I won't lie, I have been known to throw the term around from time to time (as recently as this morning). However, I like to think when I toss it around, it's in a light-hearted, joking fashion, used more in a satirical tone to poke fun at those who use it in a more derogatory way because PLEASE DON'T BAR ME FROM THE EAST SIDE! I LOVE YOUR MANY STORES AND RESTAURANTS!

So how did it get started, and how did we west-siders come to use it as slang when referring to our neighbors to the east? While I don't have the hard facts on the latter, I think I can pretty easily deduce the reason based on the answer to the former.

According to the website, Programmer Interview, the term was born out of the phrase, "you can't have your cake and eat it too," whose origin can be traced back to 16th Century England as a expression used to illustrate the inability to have two good things at the same time.

Over time, the phrase became heavily used by lower to middle class people when referring to the wealthy, or upper class, of their culture, as they believed those individuals carried around a sense of entitlement that allowed them to have that cake AND eat it too. As the phrase caught on over time, the term, "cake eater," became the go-to for referring to the upper class.

Again, I don't any hard facts to back up why those on the west side use it to refer to those on the east side, but I have a theory.

The west side has long been considered the rural, or "blue collar" part of town. People who work with their hands, building things, working the land, or what have you, while the east side has always been seen as more "white collar." They sit behind a desk, they wear fancy clothes, they tell the blue collar people what to do all day, then they hop in their Mercedes-Benz, or BMW, and drive home where their maids have dinner ready for them. The way their father did, and his father, and his father, and so on.

The irony here is that there is money on the west side of town. Quite a bit, actually. However, I believe it's looked at differently because there's a sense the people who have it had to work their fingers to the bone to get it, whereas the impression of those on the east side is that everything has been handed to them.

As with any slang or derogatory term, I believe there is some envy hidden within it somewhere. It's basic human nature to try and knock those who have things we don't, but want, down a peg or two to level the playing field in our mind. That's not to say those on the west side with larger-than-average bank accounts aren't proud of what they've accomplished, they absolutely should be. However, would they have preferred someone simply handed it to them? In many cases, I would say, "Absolutely."

At the end of the day, both sides of town have a variety of things to offer the other, and regardless of which side you hail from, we should all be proud of the city we call home.

Disclaimer: Several people on Facebook have pointed out the term is more widely used when referring to people from Newburgh, not the east side of Evansville. When I was growing up on the west side, the term was generally used for anyone who wasn't on the west side of town which covered both people from the east side and from Newburgh.

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