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 December 23, 2004
“Keep Your Eye Upon the Donut” (Optimist’s Creed)
The Mayflower coffee and donut shops (1930s-1970s) used this "Optimist's Creed" as its motto. The poem pre-dates the Mayflower.


15 April 1904, New York (NY) Sun, pg. 6, col. 5:
Their Points of View.
'Twixt optimist and pessimist
The difference is droll;
The optimist the doughnut sees -
The pessimist the hole.

14 August 1924, Shreveport (LA) Times, pg. 2, col. 4 ad:
"As you ramble through life, Brother
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eyes upon the Doughnut
And not upon the hole"
(Peyton Drug Company. -- ed.)

13 January 1929, Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, pg. 6, col. 6:
Sign in Quarrier street restaurant. Advice for those who drink coffee and eat "sinkers."

"As you ramble through Life, Brother,
Whatever be your goal.
Keep your eye upon the doughnut,
And not upon the hole."

2 October 1930, Progress Review (La Porte City, Iowa), pg. 1, col. 6:
Have you tried McBride's Doughnuts? They contain Youma whole wheat flour. As you ramble on through Life, Brother, whatever be your Goal, keep your eye upon the Doughnut and not upon the hole.

21 December 1930, New York (NY) Times, pg. 48:
DOUGHNUT HOLES
ENGAGE EXPERTS

Small-Hole Cake Is by Far
the Best for Dunking
One Declares

To the Editor of The New York Times:
(...)
In conclusion I quote the following gem of philosophy, which not only discloses a truly Aristotelian understanding but also relegates the hole to its rightful place:

As you ramble on through life, brother,
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut
And not upon the hole.

ZOLTAN GOTTLIEB,
New York, Dec. 16, 1930.

27 October 1931, Modesto (CA) News-Herald, pg. 7, col. 4 ad:
MAYFLOWER
DOUGHNUTS
"As you ramble on through life, brother,
Whatever be your goal, keep your
Eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole."
San Joaquin Baking Co.

12 October 1953, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. 2:
"Remember the doughnut shop that once was at Broadway and 8th St.? On the outside of the building this little ditty: "As you journey on through life, brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." - L. F. Kunstman, Los Angeles.

20 January 1972, Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), pg. 10:
Doughnuts: the hole story
(...)
Way back in 1932, FDR and Herbert Hoover added a homey touch to their campaigns by eating doughnuts at whistle-stop rallies. WIth the U.S. in the depths of a depression, both candidates, by coincidence, worked the "Optimists' Creed" into their speeches on several occasions...

As you ramble on thru life, brother,
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut,
And not upon the hole!

6 May 1981, New York (NY) Times, pg. C4:
How Doughnuts Won America
By SALLY L. STEINBERG
(...)
When I was a child we always had boxes of doughnuts from the Mayflower coffee shops my grandfather had started. The doughnuts wore icing costumes as pink as ballet tutus, as green as leprechauns, and they were delicious.

On the box was a quaint insignia of two men in medieval jester's outfits, back to back, looking out at the doughnuts they held, one fat, the othe thin. Old-style print between them said: "As you ramble on through life, brother,/ Whatever be your goal,/ Keep your eye upon the doughnut,/ And not upon the hole." This poem, found in an old book, was my grandfather's philosophy.

8 April 1992, New York (NY) Times, pg. C14:
Bygone Food, Chock Full o' Memories

On the other hand, most fans of the Mayflower shops best remember whole doughnuts, not only because of the company's slogan: "As you ramble through life, keep your eye on the doughnut and not on the hole." The texture, the marriage of soft and crisp - have the Mayflower doughnuts ever been bettered? All kinds of people think not.

28 February 1999, New York (NY) Times, pg. CY2:
F.Y.I.
Eyes on the Doughnut

Q. Many years ago, after ice skating in Central Park, my parents would take my brother, my sister and me to a little coffee shop on the southeast corner of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. On the wall were these words: As you ramble on through life, brother,/Whatever be your goal,/Keep your eye upon the doughnut,/And not upon the hole. Why?

A. You were in a Mayflower Doughnut shop, one of the last in the city, actually, and that bit of doggerel was the personal motto of the founder, Adolph Levitt. Known as the Optimist's Creed, the words were printed on each box of doughnuts sold in the Mayflower shops, where they were framed by two cartoon jesters, one frowning at a thin doughnut with a large hole, the other grinning at a plump one with almost no hole at all.

Mr. Levitt, an immigrant from Russia, first saw the anonymous verse in a picture frame he bought in a dime store, according to his granddaughter, Sally Levitt Seinberg.
(...)
...in 1931 he opened the first Mayflower doughnut shop. (...) Mayflower shops, all bearing the Optimist's Creed, dotted the city for decades, but had all but disappeared by the 1970's.

(Trademark)
Word Mark AS YOU RAMBLE ON THRU LIFE BROTHER, WHATEVER BE YOUR GOAL; KEEP YOUR EYE UPON THE DOUGHNUT AND NOT UPON THE HOLE
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: DOUGHNUTS. FIRST USE: 19490125. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19490125
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 020116 020117 020701 020906 080109 240102 240103
Serial Number 71676326
Filing Date November 9, 1954
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0617266
Registration Date December 6, 1955
Owner (REGISTRANT) MAYFLOWER DOUGHNUT CORPORATION CORPORATION NEW YORK 393 7TH AVE. NEW YORK 1 NEW YORK
(LAST LISTED OWNER) KERRY INGREDIENTS, INC. CORPORATION ASSIGNEE OF DELAWARE 1501 FRANKLIN AVENUE GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 11530
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record NEIL M ZIPKIN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15.
Renewal 2ND RENEWAL 19970206
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE


Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, December 23, 2004 • Permalink


In the corner bakery when I was a little kid in Cleveland Heights, there was a big illustrated mural on the back wall.. in the style of the great
book illustrators of that time.  Two medieval guys, one with a fat doughnut and the other with a skinny one.

As you ramble through life, brother
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut
And not upon the hole.

I was in my late 50’s—I’m 77 now—when a friend of my mother’s said she knew the family of the bakery owners—long gone even by then.  She got a descendant to dig out of family papers the illustration from which the mural had been painted.

Has anyone seen the illustrated version? I’d love to know who the illustrator was.  Sadly, my copy has disappeared.

Posted by Betti Franceschi  on  02/11  at  11:41 AM

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Posted by TeseUnine  on  05/16  at  06:03 PM

I bought an old sign from the shop in the Hamptons,

Here is the link to a post with the image:

facebook.com/hugh.luck?ref=tn_tnmn

Posted by Hugh Luck  on  09/27  at  08:23 PM

So-o-o glad to find this. Thanx to everyone for your posts. As a wee tad in the
50’s my parents would take me to the one on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. The
“two medieval guys” were done in delft-like blue tile on the the north wall of the shop...wowed all my friends when they came with us for a Saturday or Sunday-after-Church (St. Paul’s R.C.on Washington and Bronson. Anyone have any fotos of any of the shops, Particolarly the dntn. L.A. store? Great donuts. I hope someone still has the recipe!

Posted by A, BROOK  on  10/06  at  08:39 PM

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