Dutch Treat is a popular slang expression, which means that everyone attending the party will cover their own expenses.
The phrase is similar to Irish Exit, in the sense that the nationality, associated with the act is used as a negation. An Irish Exit is performed without saying farewell, while a “Dutch Treat” is given with no treats included.
Although the exact origin of “Dutch Treat” is not known, it has been around for centuries. A likely origin for it may be found in the 17th century, where the Anglo-Dutch wars birthed several pejorative expressions, using the Dutch ethnonym (like “Dutch Treat” or Dutch Uncle”).
One of the earliest documented uses of the phrase can be found in the 1887 August issue of Lippincott’s Magazine.
Not long after, the expression was added to various slang dictionaries, including the 1891 issue of John S. Farmer‘s Slang and Its Analogues. It was also promptly featured in a variety of publications and books.
Due to the age of the expression, “Dutch Treat” is not as fashionable today, as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, however it may still be encountered today.
Over the years, the meaning and use of the phrase has also shifted. In the mid-20th century, the phrase also started seeing use as a synonym for Dutch people. Since the legalization of cannabis in the Netherlands, the ingrained association of marijuana with Dutch people also eventually led to the creation of a strain called “Dutch Treat.”
Despite its archaic nature and the appearance of newer slang expressions, synonymous to its original meaning, “Dutch Treat” remains a versatile and applicable phrase, that can still be encountered today in a wide variety of contexts.