"Applesauce" joke (part two)
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Fri Oct 20 02:19:06 UTC 2000
The Walter Winchell "applesauce" joke finally turned up in my paper
search (for "subway series"), so here goes.
From the EVENING GRAPHIC, "Your BROADWAY And Mine" by Walter Winchell, 21
April 1928, pg. 21:
_The Wisecrack and the Gag_
(From the October Bookman)
When big time vaudeville was downtown or where Mr. Keith's Union Square
Theater used to be in New York, no bill was complete without that pair who
swapped this one: "If you had eleven apples and twelves horses, how would you
evenly divide the apples among the twelve horses?" To which the "straight
man," or the comedian's partner, would respond: "I don't know, Ignatz. How
would you evenly divide eleven apples among twelve horses?"
"Why, you simply make applesauce!" was the answer and if the auditors
didn't fall right out of their chairs at that joke, then the next generation
employed the tag line of the old reliable to squelch a braggart or an opinion
with which they didn't concur.
So great an army of entertainers employed the applesauce gag that it
became the butt for derisive comment. It was in a class with "Who was that
lady I seen you with last night?" or "Why does a chicken, etc.?" (...)
"Applesauce!" said some one in the gathering and another wisecrack was
born. The flapper incorporated it into her routine of sassy answers, the
collegiate passed it along to his townsfellows via letters and even the
small-time and the big-time players "laughed off" a joke that failed to
receive warm response from audiences by twitting themselves with "So we made
The NEW YORK MORNING TELEGRAPH was a newspaper of entertainment and
horseracing. Every one of its readers would have been familiar with
"applesauce." John J. Fitz Gerald didn't have to explain about horses and
Also in my papers:
17 October 1916, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL, pg. 1, col. 6--(An "APPLE DAY" cartoon
shows a horse eating an apple. "'SGOT OATS BEAT A MILE!"
30 July 1927, SATURDAY REVIEW OF LITERATURE, "Bowling Green" by
Christopher Morley--It seems queer that a man could be so ignorant. Do dogs
like bones? Do horses like apples? Do Chinamen like rice? Do girls like
fudge? That is how rabbits feel about plantain.
When I returned from vacation last Saturday and saw David Shulman in the
library, he told me that he'd been going through Edward S. Martin's writings.
Shulman has failed to find another "big apple" among them.
The Midwest/West (which Martin was comparing with New York in his extended
metaphor) was long known as apple country. I'll post these additional
31 August 1897, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, pg. 2, cols. 3-5 (apple
drawing)--THE BIG APPLE OF '97. (...) ...the Ozark orchards of
Missouri--"the land of the Big Red Apple."
3 September 1897, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, pg. 8, cols. 2-4 (apple
drawing)--THE BIG APPLE OF MISSOURI.
27 May 1906, THE SUNDAY HERALD (Boston), magazine section, pg. 1--"THE BIG
RED APPLE. WHERE THE LUSCIOUS FRUIT COMES FROM THAT TICKLES THE BOSTON
PALATE." (Columbia River Valley--ed.)
I also re-found John J. Fitz Gerald's nephew's information. David Fitz
Gerald, 49 King Avenue, Weehawken, NJ 07087-6906, (201) 867-3216.
It is now over one month after William Safire explained "the Big Apple."
John J. Fitz Gerald's name is still misspelled and his words (all eight of
them) are still misquoted.
This is not acceptable.
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