"food," 1856, American English (originally in California), from Chinese pidgin English chow-chow (1795) "food," reduplication of Chinese cha or tsa "mixed." The dog breed of the same name is from 1886, of unknown origin, but some suggest a link to the Chinese tendency to see dogs as edible.
Food; meals; fare: How's the chow at Maxim's these days? (1856+)
: OK gang, let's chow (1900+)
[perhaps fr Pidgin English chow-chow, ''a mixture (of foods),'' but also a dog of China that is eaten by the poor]