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A Gedunk bar or geedunk bar (// GHEE-dunk) is the canteen or snack bar of a large vessel of the United States Navy or the United States Coast Guard. The term in this sense was first recorded in Leatherneck Magazine in 1931. A service member who works in the geedunk is traditionally referred to only as that "geedunk guy" or "geedunk girl", or more informally as a "geedunkaroo". The term was popular during World War II.
The origin of the word is uncertain. One theory suggests the name is derived from the "gee-dunk" sound that vending machines made when operated. Another theory is that the term is derived from the comic strip Harold Teen, in which Harold eats Gedunk sundaes at the local soda shop. Navy ships would also then have soda shops rather than bars, as the Navy has been bone-dry afloat since alcohol was banned by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels in 1911. Yet another theory suggests that the word's origin is from a Chinese word meaning "place of idleness".
The gedunk bar was usually open for longer hours than the mess. Such bars were stocked with a wide variety of consumables such as snacks, soft drinks and fresh coffee. In the 21st century, Sailors and Marines continue to call a place where snacks are for sale a "gedunk bar" or "gedunk machine" and refer to the snacks themselves as "gedunk".
In modern times, the gedunk is usually a spare room or space in a unit's location, where are housed several used refrigerators and miscellaneous shelves to hold cold drinks, snacks, and some gedunks even have coffee pots, hot soup, and occasionally even have barbecues. Items vary in price from $.25 to only a few dollars. Gedunks are stocked by purchasing bulk food items from grocery stores or warehouse stores such as Costco, not items taken from official supply chains. Profits from gedunk sales are minor, but usually go toward unit functions, such as the Marine Ball held traditionally in November.
During the Vietnam War, all who served honorably in the U.S. armed forces were awarded the National Defense Service Medal. Because the medal was issued regardless of any length of service during the specified period (i.e., making it through boot camp), it was called a "Gedunk medal".
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- "US Coast Guard Glossary". Archived from the original on 2016-12-29.
- "Navy Traditions and Customs: Gedunk". Naval History and Heritage Command. Archived from the original on 2004-02-21.
- John Ruch (March 29, 2008). "Gedunk". Stupid Questions.
- Crowell, Jeff (31 October 2003). "Naval Terminology, Jargon and Slang FAQ Part 1 - A through M". Retrieved 2013-04-11.