Padiddle, also spelled pediddle, perdiddle and kadiddle, is an American slang term for a vehicle with a burnt-out headlight or brake light (one-tail-light cars are called pidadle in some areas of the country), as well as the name for a night-time travel game involving spotting such vehicles.
This meaning appears distinct from the term sometimes rendered as "pea diddle" or "pee diddle," meaning "virtually nothing," as in "I know pea diddle about that."
The objective is to be the first to spot a qualifying vehicle. The spotter must say "Padiddle" to earn a sighting. In some groups, the spotter must simultaneously hit the ceiling of the car, and in others, punch or kiss another passenger. The person with the highest score at the end of the trip is the winner.
The word Padiddle, a car with one headlight burned out, was in use during the early 1950s in suburban Westchester County, New York. In that post-World War II era, cruising in cars was an alternative low-cost teenage dating activity.
Instead of house parties that invariably included some kind of adult supervision, teens would ride around town on a Friday or Saturday night and scouted other cruising teens. Occasionally a "pit stop" at a burger and soda drive-in became a destination for socializing.
The game of Padiddle had rules. They were simple. Whoever first spotted a car with a burnt out headlight would point and shout. "Padiddle!" If it was a boy who was making the discovery, he was allowed to kiss his date once. If the girl spotted the one-eyed car first and shouted "Padiddle" she was allowed to punch her date on the arm as hard as she could. It's not clear where the award system for this game originated.
Qualifying vehicles must be visible through the windshield of the vehicle. "Padiddle"s seen through a side or rearview mirror only count for half a point each.
A motorcycle, accidentally misidentified as a Padiddle is a "foul" that awards the offender's partner a double hit or kiss.
As questionable as these "prizes" were, they always provided a spirited activity for a car cruise date.
- O'Sullivan, Joanne (2008). I Don't Care If We're There Yet: The Backseat Boredom Buster. Illustrated by Susan McBride. Lark Books. p. 32. ISBN 9781579908485.
- Gladstone, Gary (December 31, 1969). "Padiddle Hunt". Loose Change Memoirs.