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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

Recent entries:
“They cheated in the last election. Better vote them out this time” (6/3)
“Anything I don’t like should be banned. Everything I like should be a human right…” (6/3)
“It’s that time of year where people will say, ‘It’s too hot for coffee‘“ (6/3)
“Cashier wanted. Must be 18 years old with 20 years experience” (6/3)
Entry in progress—BP (6/3)
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Entry from September 19, 2004
Bet a Big Apple
People began betting a big (red) apple since at least 1839. A "big apple" was a prized fruit and a popular non-monetary reward.

Why didn't they bet a big banana? Why not a big orange? Why not a big plum? Because, again, the apple was the king of fruit, the mythical big reward. John J. Fitz Gerald was a handicapper. New York would always be "the big apple" to him, the biggest bet.

Below are just a few of the historical "bet a big (red) apple" published citations. The term was well established by 1900, but became rare after 1930.

1 June 1826, The Repertory (St. Albans, NY), "Married," pg. 3, col. 4:
At Hogansburgh, N. Y. on the 23d ult. by H. W. Tucker, Esq. Mr. Peter Big Apple, to Miss Irena Ketcham, of the St. Regis tribe of Indians. -- Communicated.

27 November 1836, New England Farmer (Boston, MA), pg. 160, col. 2:
THIS is the age of large Turnips, Mammoth Beets and Big Apples. (...) -- Maine Farm.

16 March 1839, Saturday Morning Transcript (Boston, MA), pg. 113, col. 2:
The New York Courier says that Mr CALHOUN will be Special Ambassador to England, to settle the Boundary question. We wager a big apple that Mr Calhoun will not, and that Mr WEBSTER will be the man.

5 September 1840, Nantucket (MA) Inquirer, pg. 3, col. 2:
GREAT LUCK OF EDITORS. -- The Boston Transcript, and sundry other prints, are chronicling every now and then that some splendid gift has been bestowed upon this or that member of the fraternity -- as a big apple -- a monstrous peach -- a pair of strawberries (alas! never a couple of plums) and the like.

9 October 1840, Portland Advertiser and Gazette of Maine (Portland, ME), pg. 3, col. 5:
A BIG APPLE. -- We have seen and have a big apple which grew in the garden of Captain Boyd of this city, weighing about one pound. We have christened it the "Harrison Apple," because it is not only bigger but better than most of the apples in town.

23 December 1841, Salem (MA) Register, pg. 2, col. 1:
NEWSPAPER READERS OF THE RIGHT STAMP. -- (...) That boy will be a grand subscriber for somebody, we'll wager a big apple.

18 June 1842, The New World (New York, NY), pg. 395, col. 2:
Original Sketch.
If it is discreditable to like a horse-race, there is one stain at least on my escutcheon. From the time I first learned to appreciate ambition and speed -- two attributes, so common to our people -- I have always yearned toward horses fleet of foot, and if I ever travel to bankruptcy (which Heaven avert) it will be on a fast horse. Yet gambling is detestable to me in every form -- I never stake even "a big apple" on a contingency, and would prefer pauperism to wealth gained by luck.

23 September 1842, The Norfolk Democrat (Dedham, MA), "Bumpus Letters-No. XVI," pg. 1, col. 2:
Between you and I, Governor, I think it was all hypocrisy, and I guess your friends in the Legislature thought so too, for they have passed a Distracting Bill which leaves in the city of Boston a fraction unrepresented of 23,383, and I'll bet a big apple you will sign it right off, without ever saying a word about it.

13 January 1846, Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 2, col. 1:
PRINTERS LOOKING UP. -- (...) There are dozens of Members of the U. S. Senate who were once nothing but lawyers! and we'll bet a big apple that no one every duly qualified to be a journeyman printed ever hitched that head to that paragraph.

29 September 1846, Fayetteville (NC) Observer, pg. 2, col. 4:
Big Apple. -- The editor of the N. Y. Commercial Advertiser had presented to him, a few days ago, a golden pippin, which measure fifteen inches and a half in circumference, and weighed twenty-five ounces. It grew in N. Carolina, and the tree from which it was taken had on it a hundred apples in all, some twenty-five or thirty of them as large, or nearly so, as the one described above.

August 1847, The American Farmer, pg. 35:
Try it once and we'll bet you a big apple that you do it every year thereafter for the balance of your life.

1 November 1848, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, pg. 2, col. 3:
BIG APPLE. -- The Trenton Daily News has got a big apple which measures fifteen inches in circumference, and weighs one pound and five ounces.

2 November 1852, Buffalo (NY) Morning Express, pg. 3, col. 1:
It is customary for those who have a propensity for betting, and yet wish to spare their pockets, to stake "a big apple."

April 1854, Prairie Farmer, pg. 154:
Without disposition other than to test the thing, I would willingly wager a "big apple" that not ten men, of those composing the Convention, can be found willing to plant this variety for market or family use, in place of the true Antwerp, Fastolf, or Orange.

27 August 1859, Spirit of the Times (New York, NY), pg. 343:
I have not heard from her morning, but will bet a big apple she never works in harness.

April 1871, Oliver Optic's Magazine, pg. 264:
I'd bet a big apple that Harry and I
Could eat them all up, one by one.

9 November 1886, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 4:
The Democrats have the House, but we will bet a big apple that they don't know what to do with it, now they've got it. -- New York Tribune.

4 June 1887, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 4:
...and we will bet a big red apple that Collier did not vote for Blaine, who has too many Irish friends to suit the English colony in Chicago.

25 October 1891, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, pg. 9 ad:
We will wager a big red apple that the prices attached to our thousand and one styles are as low or lower than the same quality of goods can be bought elsewhere.

10 September 1896, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 6:
Willie -- "I bet a big red apple with Tommy Tucker you didn't know. I've won it, hain't I?"

16 September 1897, The Dial, pg. 145:
We will bet a big red apple that anyone who reads "Patrins" can see what the effect of such an attitude has been on Miss Guiney.

14 March 1900, Colman's Rural World, "Missouri Apples at Manila," pg. 3:
I will bet a big red apple that Fred and his associates had a feast while the apples lasted.

13 February 1901, Puck (New York, NY), pg. 2:
And, what's more, I'll bet a big apple some of them plutocrats is organizin' an air-ship trust.

30 May 1903, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 4:

That Georgia Goes Demo-
cratic Next Year.

25 July 1903, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 5:
"I'll bet a big red apple that if James R. Keene had had nothing to do with the firm of Talbot J. Taylor & Co. they could have got all the money they needed."

1 March 1905, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 12:
"I don't believe the May deal is over," said R. D. Richardson, "and will bet a big red apple that May wheat will yet sell higher than it has done so far."

22 September 1907, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, pg. 24:
The Whitney plotters said yesterday that things were looking good to them in ward 20 and they would bet a big apple that some of the "Red Devil" candidates for delegate to the state convention would fall by the wayside next Tuesday.

16 October 1907, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. II3:
You can wager a big red apple that Miss Flagg will not recommend half-cooked restaurant meals, nor Mrs. Stilson a barrel of ostrich feathers on the hat.

8 January 1908, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, pg. 7:
The spokesman of the Williams-Kiley-Feeney state committee alliance said last night that he would bet a big red apple to a peanut that McNary wouldn't have a baker's dozen at his meeting.

2 November 1908, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 8:
I will bet a big apple that if Mr. Bryan should be elected your salary will be reduced 25 per cent within twelve months after his election.

16 November 1908, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. 16:
We will bet a big apple that there will be many men and women in its ranks.

15 July 1909, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. II4:
But we'll wager a big red apple that it was not at the rate of a dollar a word.

22 December 1911, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. II4:
Saw a man on Broadway the other day try to stop a street car by waving an umbrella at it. We will wager a big red apple that he was from the East.

9 July 1913, Puck (New York, NY), pg. 3:
THE GENTLEMAN FROM KANSAS (proudly). -- I just wish we had one o' them machines to hum! I'll bet a big apple I'd get the next nomination for Congress from our district!

2 July 1914, New York (NY) Times, pg. 3:
"Mayor Mitchel may be down to see me at Oyster Bay," he (Colonel Roosevelt -- ed.) added. "If he comes I would bet a big red apple that we would talk on municipal affairs only rather than State politics."

26 November 1924, Washington (DC) Post, pg. 6:
We stand ready to bet a big red apple against the hole in a doughnut.

26 February 1941, Los Angeles (CA) Times, Hedda Hopper's Hollywood, pg. A11:
His new one, "The Lady Eve," will wind up as THE comedy of the year, and I'll bet you a big red apple on it.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big ApplePre-1920s • Sunday, September 19, 2004 • Permalink