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 January 03, 2019
New York State grows many apples (suggested in 1988)

New York State grows many varieties of apples, and it is sometimes claimed that New York City’s nickname of the “Big Apple” is related to this. This suggestion was made to the syndicated “Dear Abby” newspaper column in 1988.

The earliest citations of “Big Apple” are found in John J. Fitz Gerald’s horseracing columns in the New York (NY) Morning Telegraph in the 1920s. Fitz Gerald explained twice (in 1924 and in 1926) that he’d heard the term from African American stablehands at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, and they referred to the “Big Apple” as the big reward of New York’s racetracks. There is no evidence whatsoever that “Big Apple” has anything to do with the apple growing in New York City (of which there is almost none) or of New York State.

“Apples are commonly grown in New York State. It is the state fruit and a major export. So, Big Apple would compare the city to upstate. Imagine a map with the cities marked as apples” was posted on the website StackExchange—English Language & Usage. However, there is no evidence at all that “Big Apple” was used for New York City to compared it to other cities in the apple-growing state of New York. There is also no evidence of any maps where cities are represented with apples.

The book The Big Apples of New York: The Story of How New York State Became the Big Apple (2013) by Ann L. DuBois (revised and enlarged in 2015 under the title Apples of New York: The Story of how New York State Became the Big Apple) maintains that the apple growing of New York State led to the “Big Apple” nickname—for both the city and the state.


Apples from New York
APPLE VARIETIES OF NEW YORK STATE
From A to Z
New York grows more apple varieties than any other state. With nearly 700 growers and 10,000,000+ trees, we produce enough apples each year to bake 500 million apple pies!

New York Apple Sales, Inc.
New York State: Growing more varieties than any state – and more apples than any state (except one)
Apples are big business in New York. It’s true – we grow more apples than any state (other than Washington) and offer more varieties than any state. According to the USDA, New York produces almost 30 million bushels annually. New York State apples are grown on about 55,000 acres, in six major production districts around the State: ...

OCLC WorldCat record
The apples of New York. Vol. 1
Author: Spencer Ambrose Beach; Nathaniel Ogden Booth; Orrin Morehouse Taylor
Publisher: Albany : J. B. Lyon Company, 1905.
Series: Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station, 2.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

9 August 1988, Ottawa (ON) Citizen, “Imaginative readers search for the seed of New York City’s Big Apple nickname” (Dear Abby column), pg. A16:
DEAR ABBY: As a former resident of New York, I believe it came to be known as the Big Apple because New York grows the most varied apples of any state in the union. For example: Delicious, Rome, MacIntosh, Baldwins, Golden Delicious, Spy Greivies, Jonathon, etc. Hence the name, the Big Apple.
N. WHITMAN,
LAUDERDALE LAKES, FLA.

Google Books
New York Facts and Symbols
By Emily McAuliffe
Mankato, MN: Capstone Press
2003
Pg. 21:
State Fruit: The apple became New York’s state fruit in 1976. Apple trees grow throughout the western part of the state. New York City is sometimes called the Big Apple.

Google Groups: rec.arts.comics.dc.universe
Smallville in Kansas
Brenda W. Clough
1/5/03
Bill Bickel wrote:
>>And once they hung the nickname “the
>>Big Apricot” on Metropolis, that localized IT - not Gotham - to New
>>
>Jersey,
>
>>because NJ is THE source of apricots east of the Mississippi.
>>
>
>New York City isn’t called The Big Apple because apples grow there

But apples are (or were) a primary crop in New York -State-.

Google Books
The Encyclopedia of New York State
Edited by Peter R. Eisenstadt
Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press
2005
Pg. 176:
Big Apple. Nickname for New York City. Its origins are unknown but might be related to New York State’s reputation as an apple-growing region.

Google Books
New York:
What’s So Great About This State

By Kate Boehm Jerome
Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing
2010
Pg. 23:
Although New York City is known as the Big Apple, it’s the whole state that takes the prize. New York State grows more apples than any other state except Washington.

StackExchange—English Language & Usage
Apples are commonly grown in New York State. It is the state fruit and a major export.
So, Big Apple would compare the city to upstate. Imagine a map with the cities marked as apples.
answered Feb 7 ‘11 at 18:14
Potatoswatter

I believe yours is the true, but “unprovenable” answer. I think it started off by some people marking various cities on a NY map with the apple icon, and NYC was marked with the biggest and most prominent apple. – Blessed Geek Jul 20 ‘14 at 12:30

Amazon.com
The Big Apples of New York: The Story of How New York State Became the Big Apple Paperback – August 7, 2013
by A. L. DuBois (Author)
The popular conception or more correctly misconception is that New York City alone is The Big Apple. The truth is much larger, historically more complicated and deeply meaningful. The apple is an icon. It is the fruit of the gods,Eve, the Beatles,the Apple computer company, and it will forever reside in Paradise.Apples are beautiful,aromatic,iconic,the food of love,food of survival,romance,intelligence ,health , wisdom, opportunity, and creativity, and the most popular fruit in the world.Their hallmark is their innate spontaineous creativity, which makes them stand out from all other tree-grown fruits, as witnessed by their over 10,00 varieties. That quality is in harmony with the spirit of New York. My book alone shows how the apple became a New Yorker and how New York became The Big Apple.This adventure and mystery story is at the heart of New York. I follow the apple from the gods of Paradise to the arrival of the Europeans with their apple seeds to settle and grow in New York.The story involves the Revolutionary war, Civil war , carrying us to the Jazz age,and how Russia came into the story. How New York State became the largest producer of apples in the world and onto the present day when it’s the largest producer of apple varieties in the world.

Google Books
Apples of New York: The Story of how New York State Became the Big Apple
Ann L. DuBois
New Place Press, Jan 28, 2015 - History - 194 pages
Apples of New York is a book that tells the rousing good story of how New York State became the Big Apple.It starts with the colonists importing their beloved apples from Europe.Onto the Revolutionary war, Civil war, both World wars and it reveals the surprising connection with the Harlem Renaissance, Russia, so much more. Included are 26 full color, full page Botanical paintings of Heritage apples by the renowned artist A.L. DuBois with a listing of orchards where they are grown and sold.Also there is coverage of the many apple festivals that exist throughout the state. Then we need to remember the reason apples are the most popular fruit in the world. So 23 heritage and modern recipes are included.Some come from the famous Culinary Institute of America. 

Hudson Valley Magazine (NY)
Apples of New York Book Explains History of New York State Fruit
Local author A.L. DuBois reveals the rich history of the connection between apples and New York State

BY SHANNON DONOHUE
Published: 09/15/2015
Ever wonder why New York is referred to as the “Big Apple?” According to local author A. L. DuBois, the story is much more complex than it sounds.

In her book, Apples of New York ($30.99, New Place Press), DuBois explains why the expression “The Big Apple” should encompass the entire state, rather than just New York City.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big Apple1970s-present: False Etymologies • Thursday, January 03, 2019 • Permalink