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 15, 2008
BIC (Bronx Irish Catholic)

BIC is a ballpoint pen that was introduced in 1950. In the 1950s and 1960s, “B.I.C.” (usually pronounced as letters and not a word) stood for “Bronx Irish Catholic.” “BIC” is still used today by the people who grew up and remember that time and place.


BIC Product History
BIC manufactures and sells 24 million stationery products every day around the world. BIC is the world’s number one manufacturer of ballpoint pens and a leader in stationery products.

In France, in 1945, a man named Marcel BICH, who had been the production manager for a French ink manufacturer, bought with his partner Edouard BUFFARD, a factory outside Paris and set up business as the maker of parts for fountain pens and mechanical lead pencils.

While his writing instruments parts business began to grow, the development of the ballpoint was advancing in both Europe and the United States and Marcel BICH saw the enormous potential for this new writing instrument.

After obtaining the patent rights to a ball pen created by Hungarian inventor, Ladislao BIRO, Marcel BICH introduced his own ball pen in December 1950. Touting his product as a reliable pen at an affordable price, he called it « BIC » a shortened, easy-to-remember version of his own name. The famous BIC® CRISTAL® ballpoint pen was born!

Bronx Board
A Bronx Irish Catholic Remembers Her Bronx
by Pat Gurrell Conway
(...)
After graduating from St. Frances, we moved back to Woodlawn and I went to St. Barnabas High School, where Bronx Irish Catholic girls were called BICs (no connection to the pen).

Ancestry Magazine
July/August 1998
The Bronx: A Swedish Connection
(...)
My B.I.C. (Bronx Irish Catholic) credentials were being questioned?

Google Groups: alt.english.usage
Newsgroups: alt.english.usage
From: (Pk2222)
Date: 1999/01/20
Subject: Re: Dogan as a term for Catholic

It signifies Irish. In New York, it’s been transmorgified into “BIC” for “Bronx Irish Catholic”.

New York (NY) Times
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: NEW YORK BOOKSHELF; The Bronx Is Up: Three Whose Journey Began There
Published: December 12, 1999
(...)
DREAMING OF COLUMBUS: A BOYHOOD IN THE BRONX
By Michael Pearson
Syracuse University Press
(Hardcover, $24.95)

When I grew up in New York City, we used the term BIC, Bronx Irish Catholic, derisively. For us, it meant girls in plaid skirts and saddle shows, boys in Oxford shirts and khaki pants. It meant the smiling Kingston Trio and a happy acceptance of the way the world was. So even though most of us were BICs, we pictured ourselves otherwise.

Google Books
White Ethnic New York:
Jews, Catholics, and the SHaping of Postwar Politics
by Joshua M. Zeitz
Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press
2007
Pg. 24:
To many Irish and Italian New Yorkers, Pearson’s vivid recollection of “girls in plaid skirts and saddle shoes [and] boys in Oxford shirts and khaki pants”—the very embodiment of “the term BIG, Bronx Irish Catholic”—resonated deeply.

America- The National Catholic Weekly (September 17, 2007)
I am what was once called a BIC—a Bronx, Irish Catholic.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • (0) Comments • Friday, February 15, 2008 • Permalink