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 November 14, 2012
“Hors d’oeuvres—a ham sandwich cut into forty pieces”

Hors d’oeuvres are often very tiny pieces of food. “Hors d’oeuvres: A ham sandwich cut into 40 pieces” has been credited since at least 1952 to the comedian Jack Benny (1894-1974). Georgia Gibbs (1919-2006), a popular singer, was credited in 1944 with calling hors d’oeuvres “a ham sandwich cut into 50 pieces.” Heartsill Wilson (1920-1994), a salesman, was credited in 1972 with calling hors d’oeuvres “a ham sandwich cut into 20 pieces.”


14 October 1944, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Looking at Hollywood” by Hedda Hopper, pg. 16:
Georgia Gibbs describes hors d’oeuvres as “a ham sandwich cut into 50 pieces.”

29 June 1950, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), “Wake Up With a Smile” From Roundy, pg. 1, col. 8:
I was at a place the other night the woman said she wanted the guests to have some hors d’oeuvres.

She asked me how I liked them I told her it first time I ever seen a sandwich cut into fifty pieces.

Google Books
Coronet
Volume 33, Issue 1
1952
Pg. 59:
Hors d’oeuvres: A ham sandwich cut into 40 pieces. —Jack Benny

6 November 1952, National Road Traveler (Cambridge City, IN), pg. 5, col. 3:
Hors D’Oeuvres: A ham sandwich cut into 40 pieces. —Jack Benny

16 April 1969, Waterloo (IA) Daily Courier, “People and Places” by John Barbour, pg. 40, col. 1:
Definition of hors d’oeuvres: A ham sandwich cut into 40 pieces.

Google News Archive
13 January 1972, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), pg. 4, col. 7:
Food For Thought
Hors d’oeuvres—a ham sandwich cut into forty pieces. (Jack Benny)

15 December 1972, Aberdeen (SD) American News, “Earl Wilson’s New York,” pg. 4, col. 5:
WISH I’D SAID THAT: An hors d’oeuvre, explained Heartsill Wilson, is merely a ham sandwich cut into 20 pieces.

Google Books
December 1977, Boys’ Life, “Think & Grin,” pg. 80, col. 3:
Daffynition: Hors d’oeuvres — A ham sandwich cut into 40 pieces. — Lou Riechman, Dayton, Ohio.

Google Books
Funny by Definition
By Robert Myers
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com, Inc.
2000
Pg. 93:
HORS D’OEUVRES: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Wednesday, November 14, 2012 • Permalink