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.

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Entry from February 23, 2013
“Heaven is where the cooks are French, the policemen are English, the mechanics are German, …”

The nationalities of Europe each have specialties. “Heaven” might be French cooking and “hell” might be British cooking. The heaven/hell saying was put on posters and T-shirts and has been cited in print since at least 1986.


23 July 1986, The Daily News (Huntingdon, Saxon and Mount Union, PA), pg. 8, col. 6:
“ON THE RELIGIOUS” SIDE: niece Anne Carroll of Charleston, West Virginia, sent me a goodie from a newspaper column in the “Almost Heaven” state: “Heaven is where the cooks are French, the police are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and everything is organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the cooks are English, the police are German, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and everything is organized by the Italians.”

Google News Archive
27 February 1987, The Vindicator (Youngstown, OH), “Nationality stereotypes deceptive” by Jack Smith (Los Angeles Times), pg. 19, col. 1:
I have been moved to think about this by an aphorism on the difference between heaven and hell, according to the occupations assigned in each place to various nationalities. You have probably heard it:

“In heaven: The chefs are French, the police are English; the lovers are Italian; the mechanics are German, and the whole place is run by the Swiss.

“In hell: The chefs are English; the police are German; the lovers are Swiss; the mechanics are French, and the whole place is run by the Italians.”

Google Books
Let’s Talk Quality:
96 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask Phil Crosby

By Philip B. Crosby
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1989
Pg. 35:
He used to tell me the difference between heaven and hell. “Heaven,” he would say, “is a place where the police are English; the chefs are French; the mechanics are German; the administrators are Swiss; and the lovers are Italian.”

“Hell,” he would continue, “is a place where the chefs are the English: the mechanics are French; the police are German; the administrators are Italian; and the lovers are Swiss.”

28 February 1994, Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette, pg. 4A. col. 4:
The T-shirt joke (Heaven is when the police are British, the cooks Italian, the mechanics German, the lovers French and it’s all organized by the Swiss; Hell is when the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German and it’s all organized by the Italians) would be rewritten—as it was in 1939.

Asia Times
Feb 13, 2010
Oedipus wrecks
By Chan Akya
Heaven is where the cooks are French, the policemen are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and the bankers, Swiss. Hell is where the cooks are English, the policemen are German, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and the bankers Italian.
- European joke detailing comfortable stereotypes.

Google Books
Dirty Italian:
Everyday Slang from “What’s Up?” to “F*%# Off!”

By Gabrielle Euvino
Berkeley, CA: Ulysses ; Enfield : Distributed by Publishers Group West
2012
Pg. 68:
“Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers Italian, and it’s all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, the police are German, and it’s all organized by the Italians.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, February 23, 2013 • Permalink