A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from May 31, 2010
Nuke (to cook in a microwave oven)

A microwave oven makes some foods so hot so quickly that the microwaving has jokingly been called “nuking.” The verb “nuke” meaning “to cook in a microwave oven” has been cited in print since at least 1983.

Wikipedia: Microwave oven
A microwave oven, or a microwave, is a kitchen appliance that cooks or heats food by dielectric heating. This is accomplished by using microwave radiation to heat water and other polarized molecules within the food. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being more evenly heated throughout (except in thick objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques.

Basic microwave ovens heat food quickly and efficiently, but do not brown or bake food in the way conventional ovens do. This makes them unsuitable for cooking certain foods, or to achieve certain culinary effects. Additional kinds of heat sources can be added to microwave packaging, or into combination microwave ovens, to add these additional effects.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
nuke, v.
trans. To cook or heat up (food) in a microwave oven; (also, more generally) to expose to any form of radiation.
1984 Campus Slang in J. E. Lighter Hist. Dict. Amer. Slang (1997) II. 686/1 Nuke, cook something in a microwave oven: Nuke it—it’ll only take a couple of minutes.
1988 Times 17 Aug. 10/1 He was down in radiotherapy before anyone could stop him. ‘Nuke me till I glow!’ he is said to have dared the technicians.
1993 Equinox (Camden East, Ont.) June 33/4 ‘This microwave can deliver energy to tissues more effectively than infrared lamps’... Naturally, there have been jokes about nuking your pigs and so on.

Google News Archive
26 July 1983, Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, “New venture keeps entrepreneurs cooking” by Bonnie Dunham, pg. 6, col. 1:
His mode of cooking includes “cooking everything up using fresh ingredients.” And despite some people’s resistance to using a microwave oven, Sohl maintains that microwaving or “nuking it,” as he jokingly calls the process, is the best way to reheat and still retain the fresh flavors.

16 November 1983, Santa Cruz (CA) Sentinel, “The thing is—would you eat zapped food?” by Bob Shallit (McClatchy News Service), pg. B-11, col. 4:
SACRAMENTO—Will consumers buy “nuke food”?

The question could be answered next year when a host of companies begin processing fruits and vegetables with a technique that uses low levels of gamma radiation.

Google Books
Managing New Technologies:
The information revolution in local government

By Costis Toregas
Washington, DC: International City Management Association
Pg. 101:
And, before we move on, let it be said that microwave ovens can do a lot more than “nuke” food.

Google Books
Nutrition for the working woman
By Audrey Tittle Cross
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
Pg. 214:
I call this method “nuking.” Microwave cooking works best for those foods with a high moisture content.

Google News Archive
5 March 1987, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “The merits of microwave cooking” by Janis D. Froelich, BAY weekly, pg. 4, col. 2:
We’ve tried microwave pizzas with a regular crust and the crust ends up tasting like cardboard after being nuked.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, May 31, 2010 • Permalink