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 May 21, 2006
BLT (BMT) Sandwich (bacon, lettuce and tomato)
The BMT sandwich (Bacon Mit Tomato) was named after the NYC subway line at least as early as 1936. Subway restaurants trademarked its "Italian B.M.T." sandwich (sliced Genoa salami, pepperoni, ham and vegetables) from 1967.

The BLT sandwich (bacon, lettuce, tomato) possibly comes from Chicago and was named after its famed Chicago Tribune columnist BLT, or Bert Leston Taylor (1866-1921). The "BLT" sandwich is first cited in print in 1941.

The initials "BLT" also stand for "Bites, Licks and Tastes." A BLT riddle was cited in print in 1994, with this version in 2001:

Q: How can you use a lighthouse, rose trellis, windstorm, dune, and Halloween costume to create something tasty?
A: Make a beacon, lattice, and tornado sand witch.


"BTL" was also used. "For the sake of brevity, 'B. T. L.' is still used for a bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwich" was printed in the Boston (MA) Daily Globe on September 3, 1951. "B. T. L. That's East Coastese for a bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwich" was printed in the Independent (Long Beach, CA) on May 28, 1964. "Btl" also stands for "bottle," so it's understandable how "BLT" became the popular combination of the letters.


Wikipedia: BLT sandwich
The BLT is a variety of sandwich containing Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato. The sandwich traditionally has several strips of cooked bacon, leaves of lettuce (traditionally iceberg or romaine), and slices of tomato, all sandwiched between slices of bread, optionally toasted. Mayonnaise is the traditional condiment used.

The origins of the BLT are not fully known. The 1929 book Seven Hundred Sandwiches by Florence A. Cowles refers to a "bacon sandwich" though this recipe calls for green peppers and pickles but neither lettuce nor tomato. However, the book also mentions a "Bacon Salad Sandwich" which combines a creamed bacon salad (similar to chicken or tuna salad) with onion, lettuce and tomato.

Common Variants
"BLAT", with avocado added.
"BELT", with scrambled egg added.
"BLT /w Butter", Substitute butter for mayonnaise.
"BLRT", with ranch substituted for mayonnaise.
"MLT", a kosher variation, in which mutton is substituted for bacon.
"TLT", a vegan variation, in which tempeh is substituted for bacon
"Turkey BLT", exactly the same as a BLT, but with sliced turkey added to the bacon, lettuce, and tomato.
"ZLT", made with zebra meat, plum tomatoes and lettuce, as created by Rusty Nash for beast feaster

Wikipedia: Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation
The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) was an urban transit holding company, based in Brooklyn, New York City, United States, and incorporated in 1923. It is now the BMT Division of the New York City Subway. Together with the IND, it is operationally described as B Division. The original BMT routes have the letters from J to R, as well as the Franklin Avenue Shuttle (S). The IND's B, D and F partly use BMT trackage, as does a short section of the A in Queens, while the W and Z supplement the N and J.

Subway restaurants - Menu
Italian B.M.T.® An old-world favorite. Sliced Genoa salami, pepperoni and ham and your choice of fresh vegetables and condiments served on freshly baked bread. Some say BMT stands for biggest, meatiest, tastiest. We wouldn’t disagree.

1 March 1936, New York (NY) Times, "Lexicon of the Soda Jerker" by Helen Dallis, pg. X10:
Some of the expressions are divided into idea families. When the bacon and tomato sandwich became "the BMT," the subway family started. It fell to the lot of the lettuce and tomato to be called "IRT," even though neither of the first two letters seem to stand for anything.

10,000 Snacks:
A cookbook of delicious canapes, relishes, hors d'oeuvres, sandwiches, and appetizers for all occasions

by the Browns
Cora, Rose & Bob
Garden City, NY: Halcyon House
1948
copyright 1937
Pg. 189:
B. T. is the counterman's signal for the ever popular Bacon and Tomato Sandwich.
B. M. T. is another lunch room order for the same thing, especially in New York, where those intials stand for the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Co. Probably the "M" between the Bacon and Tomato stands for "mit," the old German free lunch word for any bite "with" beer.

21 July 1941, The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), "To Change the Subject: Hash the Lexicon; Pie the Dictionary" by Jessie Ash Arndt, pg. 11, col. 1:
Tell the waitress you want bacon, lettuce and tomato on white toast and listen to the terms in which your order is relayed to the cook -- "B. L. T. on T." See if you are quick enough to figure it out.

13 August 1941, Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS), "Shoot the Sherbet to Me, Herbert," pg. 2, col. 1:
Yesterday we heard a waitress demand a B. L. T. on T., which translates into a bacon, lettuce and tomato on white toast.

31 January 1942, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, "White Collar Girl" by Ruth MacKay, pg. 13, col. 2:
Soda Fountain Slanguage.
"Burn one" -- chocolate malted milk.
"O. J." -- orange juice.
"86" -- don't have it.
"Draw one" -- coffee.
"B. T." -- bacon and tomato.

10 November 1944, Chicago (IL) Tribune, "A Line o' Type or Two" by Charles Collins, pg. 18:
B. L. T., according to Transatlantic Quiz, is the abbreviation for bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches.

5 February 1947, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), pg. 18, col. 4 classified ad:
T. H. B. L. T. -- Turkey, ham, bacon, lettuce, tomato -- the best sandwich in town -- at the FLAME, 540 State.

September 1949, Hearst's International Combined with Cosmopolitan (New York, NY), "Gimme a 51 and a Parlez-Vous," pg. 82, col. 3:
Here's a list which may help you solve some of the mystic language which is shouted behind the soda fountain:
(...)
4. B.T. (Bacon & Tomato)
5. L.T. (Lettuce & Tomato)

10 June 1951, Miami (FL) Sunday News, "A Language Of Their Own" by Harvey Keeler, Miami Sunday News Magazine sec., pg. 4, cols. 1-2:
Some of the designations are used merely to save time and breath, for example the familiar B.L.T., down, hold Mazie" -- a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast with no mayonnaise, ...

3 September 1951, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, "Car Hop Slanguage" by Marie Ellery, pg. 51, col. 2:
For the sake of brevity, "B. T. L." is still used for a bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwich.
(...)
They've improved on the "B. T. L." sandwich to make it simply "beetle."

22 April 1956, Shreveport (LA) Times, "Soda Jerk Jargon -- A Dead Slanguage?" by Dewey Finley, pg. 3-F, col. 3:
GLOSSARY
(...)
BLT -- Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich (some soda jerks used other variations to designate this sandwich.)

28 May 1964, Independent (Long Beach, CA), "Wild Waves Say" by Iola Masterson, pg. C-2, col. 3:
HAD LUNCH with Phyllis (Mrs. Harlan) Miller the other day and she jokingly said she'd just have a B. T. L. That's East Coastese for a bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwich.

Penn State Daily Collegian (March 4, 1965)
A "BLT all the way" is a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast with mayonnaise.

28 July 1971, The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, WI), pg. 21, col. 5 ad:
BACON
Great for B.T.L.s
(Bacon, Tomato, Lettuce Sandwiches)
(Reichenbergers supermarket. -- ed.)

(Trademark)
Word Mark B.M.T.
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: FOOD PRODUCTS-NAMELY, SPECIALLY PREPARED SANDWICHES MADE WITH HAM, PEPPERONI, GENOA AND BOLOGNA FOR CONSUMPTION ON OR OFF THE PREMISES. FIRST USE: 19670800. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19670800
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73631255
Filing Date November 20, 1986
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition May 12, 1987
Registration Number 1451139
Registration Date August 4, 1987
Owner (REGISTRANT) DOCTOR'S ASSOCIATES, INC. CORPORATION CONNECTICUT 300 South Pine Island Road Suite 306 Plantation FLORIDA 33324
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Valerie Pochron
Prior Registrations 1047868
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20070328.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20070328
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, May 21, 2006 • Permalink