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 Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 29, 2020
“If I had some ham, I could make a ham sandwich—if I had some bread”

"If we had some ham, we could have ham and eggs—if we had some eggs” (or “If I had some bread, I could make a ham sandwich—if I had some ham") is a jocular saying from a poor person who can’t afford to eat. The line probably originated in vaudeville.

“SAY PIEFACE, IF I HAD SOME HAM I’D COOK SOME HAM AND EGGS—IF I HAD SOME EGGS” was printed in the Pittsburg (PA) Press on October 20, 1907. “If I had some ham I’d have some ham and eggs, if I had some eggs” was printed in the Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette on October 30, 1907.

“If we had some ham, we could have a ham sandwich—if we had some bread” was printed in The Morning Sentinel (Orlando, FL) on May 11, 1917. “If I had some bread, I’d make a sandwich, if I had some ham” was printed in the Shreveport (LA) Journal on September 11, 1923.


Wiktionary: if we had ham we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs
Proverb
if we had ham we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs

1. Draws attention to the futility of a plan or strategy in the absence of the resources necessary for it to work

Newspapers.com
20 October 1907, Pittsburg (PA) Press, comics sec. pg. ?, col. 3:
SAY PIEFACE, IF I HAD SOME HAM I’D COOK SOME HAM AND EGGS—IF I HAD SOME EGGS.

30 October 1907, Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette, “Gazette Glints,” pg. 4, col. 3:
Heard in Vaudeville.
“If I had some ham I’d have some ham and eggs, if I had some eggs.
“If I had some pork I’d have some pork and beans, if I had some beans.
“If I had 10 cents I’d have a dollar, if I had 90 cents.”

Newspapers.com
16 December 1907, Topeka (KS) Daily State Journal, “Society,” pg. 11, col. 1:
Col. Fred Bullene’s new one-two-three stunt: “If I had some ham I’d have some ham and eggs—if I had some eggs.”

Newspapers.com
22 February 1908, Atchison (KS) Daily Globe, pg. 4, col. 1:
A German said to-day: “If I had some eggs, I would have ham and eggs, if I had some ham.”

Newspapers.com
3 October 1908, Nashville (TN) Banner, “Song and Story” by Will Allen Drumgoole, pg. 6, cols. 1-2:
The story of the two men lost in the woods, and the plaint of one who discovers they could have a great supper “if” they had some ham, for then they could have ham and eggs, “if” they had the eggs, is but an echo of the plaint of those failures who can never accomplish any great things because they failed to get over the dastardly little conjunction in the great lesson of life.

13 February 1909, Savannah (GA) Tribune, “Anent Classes, pg. 4, col. 3:
“If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.”

11 September 1909, Prescott (AZ) Daily News, “Jno. M. Milburn At It Again,” pg. 1, col. 3:
One said to the other, “If we had some ham we could have some ham and eggs, if we had the eggs.”

Newspapers.com
6 March 1911, Indianapolis (IN) Star, “We Have In Our Midst,” pg. 6, col. 5:
“‘Why,’ said the first tramp, ‘if we had a ham we could have ham and eggs—that is, if we had the eggs.’”

Newspapers.com
17 August 1912, The Day Book (Chicago, IL), pg. 17, col. 1:
The Optimist—This is all right. If we only had some ham we could have ham and eggs, if we only had some eggs.

Newspapers.com
18 January 1913, The Evening News (Roseburg, OR), pg. 4, col. 5:
If you had some ham, you could have ham and eggs—if you could get the eggs.

Newspapers.com
11 May 1917, The Morning Sentinel (Orlando, FL), “Waste Now and Starve Tomorrow!” by Reginald Wright Kauffman, pg. 5, col. 3:
“If we had some ham, we could have a ham sandwich—if we had some bread.”

Newspapers.com
14 December 1917, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Times, “Khaki for All at Camp Upton, pg. 5, col. 1:
His favorite saying, according to his biographers, between meals, is:

“Now, if I had some bread, I could have some nice bread and butter, if I had some butter.”

Google Books
May 1918, Photographic Review, pg. 3, col. 1:
PSYCHOLOGY OF THE SHOW CASE.
C. H. CLAUDY.
(...)
Admitted that this statement is much like that of the negro who observed wistfully “If I had some ham, I could have some ham ‘n eggs, if I had some eggs” it nevertheless contains some real food for thought.

Google Books
15 October 1920, The Seed World, pg. 28, col. 1:
At present I am busy trying to keep up with work, I will close with the comforting thought “if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs.”

Newspapers.com
3 March 1922, The Evening Sun (Baltimore, MD), “Film Fans,” pg. 9, col. 1:
DO you remember the old wheeze which ran something to this effect: If I had some ham I could make a dish of ham and eggs if I had eggs?

Newspapers.com
18 June 1923, St. Louis (MO) Daily Globe-Democrat, “Echoes of the Streets” by F. H. Collier, pg. 14, col. 3:
That is, if we had ham we could have ham and eggs if we had some eggs.

Newspapers.com
11 September 1923, Shreveport (LA) Journal, pg. 14, col. 5 ad:
“If I had some bread, I’d make a sandwich, if I had some ham.”
(Peyton Drug Co.—ed.)

Newspapers.com
19 November 1924, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), “Political Undertow” by Charles Michelson, pg. 6, col. 4:
As indicated, this idea is only nascent; theoretically it is all right, but it does suggest the old vaudeville gag: “If we had some ham we could have ham and eggs if we had any eggs.”

Newspapers.com
13 December 1925, Minneapolis (MN) Sunday Tribune, “The Literary Lobby,” sec. 4, pg. 4, col. 3:
Indeed, if we had some bread, we could have a cheese sandwich, too, if we had some cheese.

Newspapers.com
23 February 1934, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, pg. 3A, col. 2 ad:
“If we had some bread we could have toast if we had an electric toaster.”

Newspapers.com
16 December 1942, Detroit (MI) Free Press, “Meat Pamphlets,” pg. 6, col. 1:
As the famous tramp remarked, “If I had some bread I could make a swell ham sandwich—if I had some ham.”

OCLC WorldCat record
If We Had Ham, We Could Have Ham and Eggs … If We Had Eggs: A Study of the National School Breakfast Program, 1972:Food Research and Action Center, 423 W. 118th St., New York, NY 10027, 145 p., paperback, $2.00.
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Journal of Nutrition Education, v4 n3 (Summer 1972): 122-123

Twitter
f.j. darnell, PhD (Doc)
@DocDarnell
Replying to @ThatsSoCorri
if i had some bread i could make a ham sandwich if i had some ham
10:58 AM · Jun 16, 2019 from Albuquerque, NM·Twitter Web Client

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, February 29, 2020 • Permalink