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 July 27, 2004
Jewish Penicillin
Chicken soup for the New York soul.


(Dictionary of American Regional English)
Jewish peniclllin n
Chicken souo.
1968 DARE (Qu. HH30, Things that are nicknamed for different nationalities) Inf NJ30, Jewish penicillin (chicken soup).
1986 Chapman New Dict. Amer. Slang 235, Jewish penicillin...Chicken soup.
1986 DARE File NYC, I remember hearing Jewish penicillin used for chicken soup in the mid 1950s; wMA (as of 1960s), When you're sick you eat chicken soup because it's Jewish penicillin; swMI (as of c1965), Well, you better take some Jewish penicillin for that cold; csWI, I recall first hearing Jewish penicillin used for chicken soup in the early 1970s; csWI, I first heard Jewish penicillin meaning chicken soup about 1980 from a guy in Chicago.

(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
Jewish penicillin n. chicken soup. Joc.
1968 in DARE: Jewish penicillin (chicken soup).
1972 R. Barrett Lovomaniacs 238: He grinned crookedly at me. "Jewish penicillin...My old lady used to make it up by the gallon."
1972 CBS Eve. News (CBS-TV)(Dec. 6): Chicken soup is good for anything. Take any medicine you want to name, the Jewish penicillin is the best.
1975 N.Y. Times Book Rev. (aug. 24) 4: Chicken soup, because of its universal curative power, is sometimes known as "Jewish penicillin."
1983 Gruen & Gruen Huey 171: I'm just not too wild about Jewish penicillin.
1984 Mayo Clinic Health Letter (Oct.) 5: Chicken soup has been confidently administered by Jewish mothers to family members with head colds from time immemorial and is sometimes referred to in jest as "Jewish penicillin."
1990 N.Y. Times Mag. (Feb. 4) 45: Historians are divided as to exactly which Catskill comedian first uttered the words "Jewish peniciliin."

Google Books
The Saturday Review Sampler of Wit and Wisdom:
In Six Entertainments Consisting of Humor, Wit, Travel, Reminiscence, Anecdotes, Games, Cartoons, Comment, and Sundry Diversions

By Martin Levin
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1966
Pg. 93:
It became such a sworn-by prescription that it is known in some quarters as Jewish penicillin, but the Jet Set when ordering it these days simply asks for consomme on the rocks.

12 January 1968, Dunkirk (NY) Evening Observer, "The Voice of Broadway" by Jack O'Brien, pg. 3, col. 2:
Brooklyn's "Home Caterers Wonder Store" (170 E. 16th St.) lists on its menu "Jewish Penicillin -- Home Made Chicken Soup."

New York (NY) Times
'Court' Buys Case for Chicken Soup
AP
Published: Thursday, December 10, 1987
A mock court gave a shot in the arm to Jewish mothers everywhere today by ruling that chicken soup deserves its reputation as ''Jewish penicillin.''

The moot Court of Historical Review and Appeals, which decides such weighty questions as who invented the fortune cookie, heard from a physician, an official of the American Jewish Congress, a Jewish mother and a chicken (well, an actor dressed as a chicken).

Medical testimony came from Dr. Michael Le Noir, president-elect of the clinical staff of the University of California Medical School, who testified that chicken soup, indeed, had medical benefits, especially when fighting colds.

Public Defender Jeff Brown, who argued for the opposition, conceded the value of chicken soup, but said it belonged to all nationalities. He pointed out that the Greeks, Italians and Chinese could all claim to use chicken soup in time of illness.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, July 27, 2004 • Permalink