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 October 14, 2018
Milquetoast (after Caspar Milquetoast)

"Milk toast” has been cited in print since at least 1831. It is toasted bread in warm milk, often with butter and other ingredients added to the toast.

“Caspar Milquetoast” is a comic strip character that American cartoonist H. T. Webster (1885-1953) introduced in the New York (NY) World in March 1924, in the strip titled “The Timid Soul.” The character’s last name became a word to describe a weak and timid individual. “Even a modest Mr. Milquetoast” was printed in a 1927 newspaper. “Don’t be a Milquetoast” was printed in a 1933 newspaper. “He is decidedly not a Milquetoast” was printed in a 1934 newspaper. “It is a tale of how a milquetoast character...” was printed in Walter Winchell’s syndicated “On Broadway” newspaper column in 1936.


Wikipedia: Milk toast
Milk toast is a breakfast food consisting of toasted bread in warm milk, typically with sugar and butter. Salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, cocoa, raisins and other ingredients may be added. In the New England region of the United States, milk toast refers to toast that has been dipped in a milk-based white sauce.

Wikipedia: H. T. Webster
Harold Tucker Webster (September 21, 1885 – September 22, 1952) was an American cartoonist known for The Timid Soul, Bridge, Life’s Darkest Moments and others in his syndicated series which ran from the 1920s into the 1950s. Because he disliked his given name, his readers knew him as H. T. Webster, and his signature was simply Webster. His friends, however, called him Webby.
(...)
Caspar Milquetoast quietly enters
The titles of Webster’s cartoons reflected the different situations, as in Our Boyhood Ambitions and Bridge. In 1924, he moved to the New York World and soon after added The Timid Soul featuring Caspar Milquetoast, a wimpy character whose name is derived from milk toast. Webster described Caspar Milquetoast as “the man who speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick”. The modern dictionary definition of milquetoast (meaning a very shy or retiring person) comes from Webster’s cartoons.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
milk toast n. U.S. toast softened in milk; cf. Milquetoast n. and adj.
1840 E. Leslie Directions for Cookery (ed. 10) 446 Milk toast is generally eaten at breakfast.

Milquetoast, n. and adj.
Etymology: < the name of Caspar Milquetoast, a cartoon character created by H. T. Webster in 1924 in his Timid Soul cartoon strip and named after the American dish milk toast n. at milk n.1 and adj. Compounds 3a (compare milksop n. 1a)
orig. U.S.
A. n.
A timid, submissive, or ineffectual person, a milksop. Also †Mister Milquetoast.
[1931 N.Y. Herald Tribune 16 Dec. 19/2 It deals with a timid purchasing agent for a drug company who casts off his Caspar Milquetoast complex when a quack physician tells him he has only three months to live.]
1932 Oakland (Calif.) Tribune 12 June s-5/2 The Kringelein was a Mister Milquetoast. For thirty years he had accepted the insults, the long hours and the short pay of his Prussian boss.
B. adj.
Timid, feeble, ineffectual; insipid, wishy-washy.
1932 Charleston (W. Virginia) Daily Mail 26 Aug. 6/6 The strong fear of authority that the Milquetoast majority has that if he does vote the straight ticket his ballot won’t be counted.

November 1831, The American Journal of the Medical Sciences (Philadelphia, PA), “Cases of Cutaneous Diseases, with Pathological and Practical Remarks” by Dr. Milo L. North, pg. 68:
... I succeeded in engaging him entirely to suspend the brandy, cider, and opium, and confine himself exclusively to rice, crackers, milk-toast, gruel, bread and milk, and other articles of a similar kind.

Chronicling America
9 November 1836, Du Buque (Wisconsin Territory) Visitor, “The Red Box, Or, Scenes at the General Wayne” by Leslie, pg. 1, col. 2:
He was afterwards emboldened to attempt some stewed chicken and milk-toast, and finally finished with preserved peaches and cream.

Google Books
The Young Housekeeper’s Friend:
Or, a Guide to Domestic Economy and Comfort

By Mrs. Cornelius (Mary Hooker)
Boston, MA: Published by Charles Tappan; New York, NY: Saxton & Huntington
1846
Pg. 156:
MILK TOAST.—67.
IF you have cream, boil it without adding any butter; when boiled, put in a little salt, and add a little flour rubbed smooth in a spoonful of milk; dip in the slices of toasted bread, and let them remain half a minute; then lay them into a hot dish with a cover, and pour over the remainder of the boiled cream.

If you use milk, add a piece of butter, in the proportion of a large spoonful to every pint of milk. There are things to be observed in making good toast, are to toast the bread very quick, and brown, and dip it while hot; and to let the boiled milk stand where it will keep so hot as to all but boil. There should be rather more salt than for the same proportion of milk for a pudding.

Chronicling America
30 October 1923, The Evening Star (Washington, DC), pg. 34, col. 1:
A TIMID SOUL CALLS FOR PASSES AT THE BOX OFFICE. BY WEBSTER.
(Person in box office, to the “timid soul”—ed.) “NO, THERE AIN’T ANY TICKETS HERE FOR ELMER K. FOSKETT!”
(This comic strip is similar to “The Timid Soul” strip that would follow in 1924.—ed.)

26 March 1924, Beaumont (TX) Daily Journal, pg. 4, col. 3:
The Timid Soul—By WEBSTER

Chronicling America
29 March 1924, The Evening Star (Washington, DC), pg. 23, col. 2:
THE TIMID SOUL.—BY WEBSTER.

Chronicling America
22 October 1924, The Evening Star (Washington, DC), pg. 24, col. 3:
THE TIMID SOUL.—BY WEBSTER.
(Caspar Milquetoast on the telephone.—ed.) “TELEGRAPH OFFICE? I WANT TO SEND A WIRE TO STATION B-L-A-H, 164 BLANK STREET.—YOUR CONCERT COMING OVER FINE—CASPAR MILQUETOAST”

20 April 1927, Tampa (FL) Daily Times, “Public Pulse,” pg. 7A, col. 1:
Among those who know me, I bear the reputation of an ordinary, inoffensive, non-pugnacious citizen, with the disposition and built along the general lines of Caspar Milquetoast, but tonight for tuppence I could blow up the Wonderful Town with the most altitudinous of high explosives, ...
J. M.

26 October 1927, Akron (OH) Beacon Journal, “Too Many Timid Souls,” pg. 4, col. 1:
The only contemptible figure in the whole corporation of entertainers is Mr. Casper Milquetoast, better known as “The Timid Soul,” who has lived to far past middle life without managing to shake his inferiority complex.

3 December 1927, Tampa (FL) Daily Times, “Christmas Trees,” pg. 4A, col. 6:
I own no country estate, no farm, grove, or suburban real estate on which there is a single tree that even a modest Mr. Milquetoast would consider as a substitute for a real Christmas tree.
(...)
-- E. B. M.

10 December 1933, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “Book Ends” by Irene Hasbrook, pg. 13, col. 2:
Don’t be a Milquetoast and feel that they’re (people who work in bookstores—ed.) too busy; they’re busy, but they’ll help you and they know more about that kind of thing than we do, anyway.

2 April 1934, Canton (OH) Repository, “Behind the News: Washington and Wall Street” by Paul Mallon, pg. 4, col. 4:
The inner departmental circles nudged each other and allowed that many influential persons have found it distinctly unprofitable to step on Hull’s toes. He is decidedly not a Milquetoast.

2 December 1936, Detroit (MI) Evening Times, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 19, col. 1:
INCIDENTALLY, critics had nice words for Mr. Coward’s playlet, “Fumed Oak”...It is a tale of how a milquetoast character, fed up with his sponging family, squirrels away a grouch fund, and then takes it on the lam.

Columbia Journalism Review
The origin of the word ‘milquetoast’
By Merrill Perlman
APRIL 16, 2018
(...)
The original “milquetoast” was a comic book character created by H.T. Webster for The New York World in 1924. Caspar Milquetoast appeared in the strip The Timid Soul, where he entertained through his timidity, literal readings of signs, and refusal to engage anyone in discussions that could turn to controversy. He enjoyed some popularity, even appearing with his creator on the cover of Time magazine in 1945, and he loaned his name to others who shared some of his traits. As time went on, and people forgot who Caspar was, the phrase just became “milquetoast,” usually lowercased.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • Sunday, October 14, 2018 • Permalink