Knisch (1919)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sat Jun 24 23:33:29 UTC 2000

   "Knish" is in the OED, cited from 1930.  John Mariani's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
AMERICAN FOOD & DRINK mentions this cite, but adds that "_Knish_ is a Yiddish
word (first in print in 1916)."  That citation is not given; this is a good
cite that reveals a possible 1906 date of "knish" origin.
   From THE MEDIATOR (microfilmed from 1917-1919; on the same reel as THE
JEWISH BAKERS' VOICE), 8 August 1919, pg. 12, col. 1:

_"K" In Knisch as in Pigs' Knuckles_
   It is pronounced, or, better, they are pronounced--k-nisches, the accent
being smeared imparitally over the k and the nisches, as in the word
k-nuckles, when used in connection with pigs' knuckles.
   Ask anybody in Rivington Street about knisches, and you will be steered
either to Max Green's polite dining-hall, in the basement of No. 150, or
Morris London's United Knisches Bakery, across the way, at No. 153.  It all
depends whether the person you pop the question to is pro-Green or
pro-London.  In any case, he, she, or it--meaning the young idea of Rivington
Street--is sure to be pro-knisches.  The East Side has gone clean crazy about
these knisches.
   Hence the great knisch war.
   As a conscientious gatherer of war news, your correspondent has to report
that he has visited both fronts--and rears--and that, so far as he is
concerned, may the best knisch win.  But which is the best knisch?  Ah-ha,
that's the question.
   Max Green says he's the inventor of the knisch.  Morris London says Max
isn't. (...)
   _The Knisch Commandments_
   And Max--what does he say?  Well, Max says simply that he is the
originator of the knisch, and points with pride--though doing so means
quitting the cash-register trench, hard by the gefuellte-fish counter, and
walking right out on the sidewalk, where one is exposed to the enemy's
fire--to the two-story sign done in Yiddish by Rosenthal, the well-known
black-and-red artist of Norfolk Street, which informs the public that the
undersigned, Max Green, is prepared to prove that he has faithfully observed
the "Ten Knisch Commandments."
   Before hearing what these Ten Commandments are, you should know that
whereas Max Green has been established in Rivington Street these last
thirteen years, Morris London, field-marshal of the United Knisch Bakery
forces, entered the campaign only a few weeks ago.  (Col. 2--ed.)  The exact
date was one week after the knisch first appeared on Max's counter as a
novelty in the eating line, at five cents per knisch.
   And this, as far as can be learned, was the sequence of events: Morris
opened his United Knisch Bakery across the street and advertised knisches at
three cents per.  Max met this challenge with a similar reduction.  Morris
bought a phonograph and advertised music with knisches.  Max retained the
services of a German band and hung up a sign reading, "Music Free Every
Evening."  Morris reinforced his staff with a ladies' orchestra and built a
platform for it in the back of his shop.  He also introduced what is
popularly known as "singink." (...) (Col. 3 continuation--ed.)
   But by this time your appetite is surely whetted to know what is it, a
knisch.  A strictly neutral investigation of knisches a la Max and knisches a
la Morris reveals much.  While, as all Rivington Street is convinced, one
knisch differeth from another in glory, not to say lusciousness and
perfection of workmanship, there are, speaking by and large, three recognized
types or species of knisch.  To wit, the potato knisch, the cheese knisch,
and the kasche knisch, or buckwheat knisch.  The potato knisch is head and
shoulders above the others in point of popularity.  Max and Morris both agree
on that.  They sell twice as many potato knisches as they do cheese and
kasche knishes combined.  But from the outside one knisch looks surprisingly
like another.  They all bear a strong resemblance to the dumplings that the
new cook tried to concoct before you heeded her request for the "proper
utensils."  And if you don't consider that sufficient recommendation, you
might be interested to know that Max says he disposes of 1,000 knisches every
Saturday and Sunday night, and that Morris, on hearing this, stated for
publication that he doled out 2,000.  The average daily consumption is said
to be 537. (...)

   I'll check out the personal/business names in the phone books and in the
New York Times Personal Name Index.

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