Green’s Dictionary of Slang

jelly roll n.

[? jelly n.1 ; note earlier chronology here; SAmE jelly roll, a doughnut, which has a hole at its centre]

1. (orig. US black) sexual intercourse; also attrib.

[US]Jelly Roll Morton [song title] The Jelly Roll Blues [written 1905, copyright 1915].
[US]Ethel Waters ‘Shake That Thing’ [lyrics] Why, there’s old Uncle Jack, the jellyroll king.
[US]Ida Cox ‘Fogyism’ [lyrics] When your man come home evil, tell you you are getting old [...] That’s a true sign he’s got someone else bakin’ his jelly roll.
[US]Louie Lasky ‘Teasin’ Brown Blues’ [lyrics] I’m crazy ’bout the way you do it, / I’m talkin’ ’bout your jelly-roll.
[US]Helen Humes ‘Keep Your Mind On Me’ [lyrics] I’ve got a high class daddy, he wants to love me with his soul / He calls it intellectual romance, but I call it just plain jelly roll.
[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 47: ‘Action?’ asked Reinhart. ‘Jelly roll,’ answered the Maker.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 150: Expressions like ‘I’m gonna get me some jellyroll’ [...] reflect a sense of sweet-tasting sex, of nourishment, of being fed.
[US](con. 1910s) F.M. Davis Livin’ the Blues 36: We all knew what it meant to [...] ‘whip that jellyroll to a fare-thee-well’.

2. (orig. US black) a lover, a spouse; also attrib.

[US]T.A. Dorgan Silk Hat Harry’s Divorce Suit 30 June [synd. cartoon strip] Miss Jennie Jelly Roll who packed in eats at the expense of Rummy.
‘St. Louis Blues’ [lyrics] ’Cause I’m most wile ’bout mah Jelly-Roll.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 244: Honey Boy had kept Tab on the Calendar and knew when Jelly Roll would arrive at her 22d Milestone.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 137: Oh, sweet papa! Sweet jellyroll!
[US](con. 1910s) A. Lomax Mister Jelly Roll (1952) 145: I told him I was Sweet Papa Jelly Roll with stove pipes in my hips and all the women in town just dying to turn my damper down! [footnote] Jelly roll – a folk simile of sexual reference which antedates Morton’s rechristening.

3. (orig. US black) the female genitals; thus jelly roll gum drop, the clitoris.

[US]Dabney’s Novelty Orchestra [song title] I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of This Jelly Roll.
[US]Bessie Smith [song title] Nobody In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine.
[US]Ora Alexander ‘You’ve Got To Save That Thing’ [lyrics] Jelly roll, jelly roll, / Laying on the fence, / If you don’t try to get it / You ain’t got no sense.
[US]S. Charters Country Blues 83: In 1930 and 1931 Lonnie began recording more blues like ‘I Got the Best Jelly Roll in Town’.
[US]Butch Cage & Willie B. Thomas ‘Jelly Roll’ [lyrics] Jelly roll, jelly roll, rollin’ in a can, / Lookin’ for a woman ain’t got no man. / Wild about jelly, crazy about sweet jelly roll, / If you taste good jelly, it satisfy your weary soul.
[UK](con. 1954) J. McGrath Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun I iii: I’d like a nice fat tart with a wobbly jelly-roll and a mind like a Cairo sewer.
[US]Frank Zappa ‘Jelly Roll Gum Drop’ [lyrics] You know I wish I might / Get a tiny bite of your / Jelly Roll Gum Drop.
[US]B. Malamud Tenants (1972) 188: Irene / Lost Queen / I miss / To be between / Your / Jelly Roll.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 15: Some terms have escaped their original moorings almost completely, notably a number of jazz words (e.g. boogie-woogie, referring to secondary syphilis, and jelly-roll, referring to the vulva).
[US]N. Tosches Where Dead Voices Gather (ms.) 145: Regarding ‘jelly roll’ as a slang term connoting, as the Oxford English Dictionary has it, ‘the female genitalia or vagina,’ its first use in song dates to W.C. Handy’s ‘St. Louis Blues’ of 1914. ‘I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None O’ This Jelly Roll,’ copyrighted by Clarence and Spencer Williams in 1919, was recorded by Mamie Smith in 1922; and several months later, in 1923, the same writers provided Bessie Smith with ‘Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine.’ Furry Lewis’s ‘Jelly Roll’ came in 1927 [...] In 1936, the song entered white country music through a ‘New Jelly Roll Blues’ recorded by the Texas singer Al Dexter.

4. (US) a male hair style, popular in the 1950s.

[US]H. Feldman et al. Angel Dust 162: Traditionally ‘greasers’ [...] ‘greased’ their hair back with ‘jelly rolls’ in the front and ‘d.a.’s’ in the rear.

5. (US black) a sanitary napkin.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 157: There are also a variety of graphic expressions to characterize sanitary napkins – rag, diaper, jellyroll, jelly sandwich.