Chris Butler recorded a demo of this song (with him singing) hoping his band Tin Huey would record it. When he played it for his bandmates, however, they were incredulous, believing the song was nowhere near their standards. He put the song away, but revived it when he reconnected with Patty Donahue, who he know when they were students at Kent State University. He convinced Patty to sing on a new demo of the song, which he put together at the home studios of two local engineers, Mark Price and Rick Dailey.
Again, he presented it to Tin Huey, but with a twist: Chris proposed that at the end of their sets, they bring Patty up on stage to sing it, with the band transforming into a different act called "The Waitresses." The band went for it, and the bit became a staple of their shows. At the end of their sets, the band would put on T-shirts that said "Waitresses Unite" (Chris got them at a Kent eatery called Jerry's Diner) and Patty would join them for a few songs, including "I Know What Boys Like."
It was all a joke, but it went over very well, so Chris decided to turn The Waitresses into a real group. He and Patty moved to New York City and assembled a band that included drummer Billy Ficca and bass player David Hofstra. They released "I Know What Boys Like" as a single in 1980, but it went nowhere. The group got a deal with Polydor, however, and included the song on their 1982 debut album Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?
, re-releasing it as a single that same year - this time it charted at #62 in the US. The Waitresses lasted just a few more years and never had another chart hit in the US, although their 1981 song "Christmas Wrapping
" became a holiday mainstay.