Does anyone know when the expression "what's cooking" began to be used in the United States? I'm interested because I'm writing a novel set in 1933.
A contributor on Quora found examples from 1939. Are there any examples earlier than that?
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GDoS (Green’s Dictionary of Slang) has usage examples from the ‘20s, so you can probably use it safely in your context:
lit. ‘what’s going on?’, i.e. what is happening?; thus negative response nothing cooking.
1926 Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 11/2: Nothing cooking – Nothing doing.
1944 H. Brown Walk in Sun 77: What’s cooking, Jack?