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 March 24, 2019
“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you”

"Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you” is a jocular saying that has been printed on many images. “Confidence is like going after the whale MOBY DICK with a rowboat, a harpoon & a large jar of tartar sauce” was printed in the Kokomo (IN) Tribune on July 30, 1978.

“An optimistic man is the one who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat armed only with a jar of tartar sauce” was printed in the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) on March 28, 1979. “Confidence is going after Moby Dick with a rowboat, a harpoon, and a jar of tartar sauce” was printed in many newspapers (usually as a “daily chuckle") in April 1979. A rowboat is a very small boat and is ill-suited to capturing the large white whale called “Moby Dick” (the title of an 1851 novel by Herman Melville), but the the fisher is so confident (so much an optimist) that he or she also carries a jar of tartar sauce with which to eat the captured whale.

American author and motivation speaker Zig Ziglar (1926-2012) is credited with the saying and has used it many times, often with slightly different wording.


Wikipedia: Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is an 1851 novel by American writer Herman Melville. The book is sailor Ishmael’s narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that on the ship’s previous voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee.

Wikipedia: Zig Ziglar
Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar (November 6, 1926 – November 28, 2012) was an American author, salesman, and motivational speaker.

30 July 1978, Kokomo (IN) Tribune, “Frank Gregory’s Talk of the Town,” pg. 35, col. 2:
Instant thot: In this screwy world, you must have confidence. Confidence is like going after the whale MOBY DICK with a rowboat, a harpoon & a large jar of tartar sauce.

28 March 1979, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), “Moby Dick and tartar sauce: An attitude” by Dianne Lynch, sec. 4, pg. 1, cols. 2-5:
An optimistic man is the one who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat armed only with a jar of tartar sauce.
(...)
Cavett Robert, know as “the Dean of motivation,” kept his audience captivated for nearly an hour.
(...)
Robert was followed by Zig Ziglar, another Southerner with a drawl and a strong belief in a positive attitude.

3 April 1979, Today (Cocoa, FL), pg. 1A, col. 8:
TODAY’s Chuckle
Confidence is going after Moby Dick with a rowboat, a harpoon, and a jar of tartar sauce.

Google Books
Esquire
Volume 92
1979
Pg. 88:
Maneuvering swiftly around the Del Monte Room, firing rhetorical devices at a rapid clip, he (Zig Ziglar—ed.) deploys an arsenal of one-liners ("I’m such an optimist, I’d go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tartar sauce with me"), ...

14 September 1979, Greensboro (NC) Record, “Positive pep rally pumps up salesman,” pg. D2, col. 2:
Profiled recently in Esquire, the flashy Ziglar now travels the country telling his success story, urging audiences to eliminate “stinking thinking” from their lives.
(...)
He said he is such an optimist that “I’d go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tartar sauce with me.”

Google Books
The World’s Twenty Largest Churches
By John N. Vaughan
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House
1984
Pg. 166:
Quoting another Texan, Zig Ziglar, the pastor once described an optimist as one who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat carrying tartar sauce with him.

Google Books
Nothing but Winners:
Over 6,000 one-liners, alphabetized and categorized for easy reference

By Pat Williams and Ken Hussar
Wilmington, DE: TriMark Pub. Co.
1984
Pg. 322:
An optimist is a guy who goes out fishing for Moby Dick in a rowboat, carrying a jar of tartar sauce.

Google Books
November 1986, Boys’ Life, “Think & Grin,” pg. 73, col. 2:
Westy: What is confidence?
Pee Wee: Confidence is going out in a rowboat to hunt Moby Dick with a peashooter and a jar of tartar sauce.
Shawn Silbernagel, Bismarck, N.D.

Google Books
Courtship After Marriage
By Zig Ziglar
Oliver Nelson
1990
Pg. 17:
As you possibly have heard, I am an incurable optimist (I would go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tartar sauce with me), so I am absolutely convinced that the principles and procedures contained in this book will make a difference not only in your marriage but in America as well.

Twitter
Ange Recchia
@angesbiz
“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.” ~ Zig Ziglar
8:12 PM - 6 May 2008

Twitter
Pastor Doug Combs
@PsDougCombs
“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.” - Zig Ziglar
11:08 AM - 22 Mar 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Sunday, March 24, 2019 • Permalink