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.

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Entry from July 27, 2012
“Everything’s chicken but the gravy”

"Everything’s chicken but the gravy (and that’s chicken gravy)” is an infrequently used saying that has been cited in print since at least 1945, when it was included in the article “GIs Now Talk Strange Lingo.” It was defined as meaning that someone “has a gripe, that he is dissatisfied with the entire situation.” In 2012, the website A Way with Words defined “all chicken but the gravy” as something that is “all good.”

The saying probably means that everything’s mostly fine ("everything’s chicken"), except for one thing or one grievance ("but the gravy").

4 February 1945, Boston (MA) Herald, “GIs Now Talk Strange Lingo,” pg. 40, col. 2:
Ask a man how he’s doing and his reply may be, “Everything’s chicken but the gravy and that’s chicken gravy.’ That means he has a gripe, that he is dissatisfied with the entire situation. If he replies, “I’m fat and easy,” he means he is satisfied, that everything is okay.

9 October 1967, The Time-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Remoulade” by Howard Jacobs, sec. 1, pg. 15, col. 2:
SOMEBODY asked effervescent Austin Ohler if things were copecetic, and he replied: “Everything is chicken but the gravy.”

Google Books
By Dennis A. Williams
New York, NY: Summit Books
Pg. 67:
“Not bad, baby. Everythin’s chicken but the gravy.”

15 January 1998, Duncanville (TX) Today, “Keep tuning to Info 1250” by Tom Bryson, pg. 2A, col. 3:
“Eveiything’s chicken but the gravy.”
“Yes, that correct.”

Google Books
Pears Come in All Shapes and Sizes
By Monica Cooper
Pg. 47:
After all… ‘Everything is chicken but the gravy.’

Ask MetaFilter
Hello World. How are you?
February 11, 2011 3:10 AM
Everything is chicken but the gravy ( bermudian expression )
Safe ( another bermudian reply )
posted by jasondigitized at 5:58 AM on February 13, 2011

A Way with Words
And The Horse You Rode In On
Posted April 30, 2012
If something’s all chicken but the gravy, then it’s all good. This colloquialism pops up in an exchange from a 1969 Congressional record.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Friday, July 27, 2012 • Permalink