‘Now We Are Cooking With Gas/Gasoline’: Definition, Meaning and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on May 16, 2023

Did someone say the phrase 'now we are cooking with gas/gasoline' and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.

In short:

  • ‘Now we are cooking with gas/gasoline’ means that things are functioning particularly effectively, that the speaker is achieving something substantial, or that great progress is being made.

What Does 'Now We Are Cooking With Gas/Gasoline' Mean?

“Now we are cooking with gas' or ‘now we are cooking with gasoline’ is an idiom that means::

  • “Functioning particularly effectively.”
  • “To be making very good progress.”
  • “Achieving something substantial.”
  • “Doing something very well.”

You will typically hear this phrase said using the conjunction “we’re” rather than “we are,” as in “now we’re cooking with gas.” Additionally, it is rare to hear someone say or see this phrase written using the full word ‘gasoline’– the phrase ‘now we’re cooking with gas’ is much more common than ‘now we’re cooking with gasoline.’

Beyond that, you’ll also hear people use the phrase ‘now you’re cooking!’ to convey a similar message– essentially, this means “now you’re doing what you should be doing.”

Where Does 'Now We Are Cooking With Gas/Gasoline' Come From?

Interestingly, this idiom actually originated as an advertising slogan back in the 1930s. Introduced by the natural gas industry, the idea behind this marketing copy was to convince people that cooking with gas was a much more effective way to prepare food than electricity.

  • During this time, there was a major transition in the United States away from using wood-burning stoves.

The two primary industries that were competing for dominance as wood-fueled stoves were falling out of favor were the electricity and natural gas industries.

The natural gas industry was motivated to try and influence people’s purchasing decisions when choosing a stove. By implying that natural gas is the best way to prepare a hot meal, they hoped to win out over electric stoves in the minds of consumers.

Over the following few decades, the meaning of the term took on the meaning of “functioning very effectively,” “heading in the right direction,” “making good progress,” “doing something well,” or “achieving something substantial.”

The Unique Advertising Strategies of the American Gas Association

The phrase ‘now we are cooking with gas’ was first coined by Carroll Everard “Deke” Houlgate, a Californian who worked in public relations in the 1930s for the American Gas Association.

Instead of focusing on radio commercials, print advertisements, and ads that ran before Hollywood films, Deke tried something a little different.

  • Brilliantly, he planted the phrase with the writers that worked for Bob Hope, who ended up putting it in one of Hope’s radio scripts.

‘Now we’re cooking with gas ended up being one of the catchphrases for Bob Hope, who used it in movie performances and radio shows. It was then added to scripts for other radio shows, including “The Jack Benny Program” and the “Maxwell Coffee Time.”

The phrase was cemented into the common American vernacular before World War II began. It’s rather incredible to realize that this still widely-used phrase all comes from an advertising man that was ahead of his time when it came to the art of product placement.

‘Now We Are Cooking With Gas’ in Print

Using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that 'now we are cooking with gas/gasoline’ has been used in publications since the early 1940s. From this graph, it becomes quickly apparent that ‘now we’re cooking with gas’ has long been more popular than ‘now we are cooking with gas,’ and instances of ‘now we’re cooking with gasoline’ don’t even register on the Ngram graph.

Examples of 'Now We Are Cooking With Gas/Gasoline' In Sentences

How would 'now we are cooking with gas/gasoline' be used in a sentence?

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Everyone has been feeling pretty dejected after the product launch didn’t go well. After the CEO gave a rousing speech, though, morale has turned up. As they say, now we’re cooking with gas!”
  • He and I have really been struggling with this project, but once we found that book, we’ve been cooking with gas.
  • Whether you meant to solve that problem or it was just an accident, you’ve put us on the right track now. Now we’re cooking with gas, Tom!”
  • “I was naive about how hard it was going to be to build this new fence. Once we bought the electric post-hole digger, we’re really cooking with gas!”
  • “He was fighting us every step of the way on this merger, but the tables have finally turned. Things are really looking up for us– now we’re cooking with gas!”

Other Ways to Say 'Now We Are Cooking With Gas/Gasoline'

What are some other words and phrases that have a similar meaning to 'now we are cooking with gas/gasoline'?

Here are some options:

  • Now we’re/you're cooking
  • Now we're/you’re talking
  • Now that’s what I’m talking about
  • Things are looking up
  • Making headway
  • Gaining ground
  • Making strides
  • Moving onward and upward
  • Moving forward
  • Firing on all cylinders
  • On fire
  • On a roll

Final Thoughts About 'Now We Are Cooking With Gas/Gasoline'

‘Now we are cooking with gas/gasoline’ is an idiom that means that things are starting to work well, that good progress is being made, or that something is functioning very effectively. Interestingly, this idiom actually stems from an advertising campaign that originated in the 1930s.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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