“Tom and Jerry, or Life in London, first staged in 1821 was one of several stage adaptations of Pierce Egan‘s popular book Life in London, published earlier in that year. Its most successful production at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End saw Tom and Jerry become the first play to have a continuous run of 100 performances in London.
The play depicts the adventures and misadventures of two young men in London, encountering both high- and low-life.
After the publication of Egan’s book and the various theatrical adaptations, the term “Tom and Jerry” entered the English language. The Oxford English Dictionary cites examples of its use – to describe young men given to drinking, gambling, and riotous living – in the US, Australia and Britain throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and into the 21st. In British usage a “Tom and Jerry shop” was a 19th-century term for a small tavern or alehouse – “especially one regarded as disreputable”. In American usage the phrase “Tom and Jerry” came to be applied from at latest the 1840s to an alcoholic drink resembling egg nog. The use of the names for the popular cartoon cat and mouse is evidently unconnected with Egan’s heroes: the names of the feline and rodent protagonists were chosen from suggestions by hundreds of MGM employees in a competition before the series was launched in 1940.”