Say the word bangers and I think bangers and mash. That’s sausage and mashed potatoes and if you’re ordering it you’re likely in England or Ireland. And you’re likely in a pub.
The bangers part is the sausage. The term came into use during World War I. With provisions at a premium, especially meat, wartime sausages contained a lot of water. That caused them to pop or bang in the pan.
But it turns out that if you’re younger and hipper than I am, bangers may have a completely different meaning. I turned to the Urban Dictionary for the young and hip perspective:
— A super awesome song. The kind you listen to for three hours on repeat on Spotify.
— Something great, a hit or a classic. It can be a song, video, or event.
— A song that makes you feel the need to headbang to the beat.
— An intense party, which involves large amounts of drinking, beer pong, and … always leaving the house a total mess.
Merriam-Webster, neither young nor hip, has several definitions of bangers:
1 British : sausage
2 British : firecracker
3 British : jalopy
4 informal : a forceful and aggressive athlete
5 slang : a member of a street gang : gangbanger
6 slang : an energetic song that is very striking or extraordinary
7 informal : an automobile or engine with a specified number of cylinders —used in combination
But if you look at popular usage, I don’t think old Merriam-Webster has all the bases covered. In 2002 there was a movie called the Banger Sisters starring Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon as a couple of groupies.
Seems the term banger is pretty common in the sports pages too. In soccer, a banger is a goal scored with a powerful shot from a good distance. Speaking to the Durham Herald-Sun, the Carolina Hurricanes hockey coach said of one of the team’s defensemen, he “can be a body banger.” And in the Hartford Courant, the assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Connecticut commenting on one of their players said, “She’s definitely our most physical banger.” I found this quote in the Regina, Saskatchewan, Leader-Post. I have no idea what the author, columnist Ted Wyman, is saying, but it’s about the sport of curling. “Gone are the days when second players were known as ‘bangers’ or strong sweepers who could throw big weight to make peels and clear the front of the house for third and skip.”
An auto review in Car and Driver offered this insight: “No lumpy four-banger flatulence here, but rather that throaty Mercedes moan that defies the ear to determine whether the powerplant is a V-16, a straight eight, or a flat twin.” (The term four-banger flatulence would sound a lot worse if it didn’t involve cars.)
And a story in Glamour had this to say about a Demi Lovato song: “The plucky banger—off her new album, Dancing With the Devil: The Art of Starting Over—pulls no punches about its subject matter.” (I’m assuming the phrase plucky banger refers to the song and not Demi Lovato herself.)
I found a couple of businesses using the name Bangers. Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden in Austin, Texas, offers a wide selection of sausages and an even wider choice of beers with both indoor and outdoor seating. I’ve been there and can recommend it, something I can not do for Bangers in Birmingham, Ala. They sell guns, ammunition and various other shooting related accessories. And in 2019, a Taft Brewing Co. beer was named Cincinnati’s favorite beer. The name: Gavel Banger.