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 April 10, 2005
“OK” Sign (Ballantine Beer & Pizza Box Chef use)
The "OK" sign has a long use in food.

Newark, New Jersey's Ballantine Beer symbol had three inter-connecting rings (purity, body, flavor). In October 1938, the "OK" sign was used to represent ordering a Ballantine. This was called the "three-ring handy" or "3-ring handy" sign.

The chef on the pizza box winks an eye at us and gives the "OK" sign. The "OK" sign (usually given by the chef) has been used on many other food products. American cartoonist and illustrator Gill Fox (1915-2004) drew a popular pizza box design.

The "OK" hand sign was also used in the early days of radio and television.

3 June 1917, Chicago (IL) Sunday Tribune, pt. 1, pg. 2, col. 5 ad:
(Ad for Yacht Club Salad Dressing by Tildesley & Co., 350 N. Clark St., Chicago. A person titled "The Chef" gives the "OK" sign -- ed.)

Google Books
A Guide to the Gay World of France:
From Deauville to Monte Carlo
Via Le Touguet, Biarritz, Vichy, Aix-les-Bains and Cannes
by Basil Woon
New York, NY: Horace Liveright
(Opposite page 254 is a cartoon with the caption: "At last! At last I am about to eat Bouillabaisse!" The waiter gives the "OK" sign with both hands. The image is also shown here. -- ed.)

May 1935, Restaurant Management, pg. 340:
(An ad for Frigidaire shows a chef making the sign. All his fingers are curved and the circle is not quite finished, with the two fingers a hair apart -- ed.)

7 July 1935, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. A6:
Glossary of Radio's New Terms Compiled.
(In addition to the word glossary, there are hand signs that were used in radio. One is the "OK" sign -- ed.)

May 1936, Restaurant Management, pg. 366, col. 1:
(An ad for Calumet Baking Powder shows a chef making the sign. "Voila! What would you expect! Of course, the FRENCH LINE uses Calumet!" -- ed.)

January 1937, Restaurant Management, pg. 3:
(Thermotainer ad shows a chef spoon-tasting with one hand and giving the sign with the other hand. "WONDERFUL!" -- ed.)

January 1937, Restaurant Management, pg. 70:
(An ad for Hall Fireproof China shows a chef making the sign -- ed.)

11 October 1938, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, p. 4, col. 4 ad:
Quickest way I know to say
"3 rings"
-- in other words, "MAKE MINE

GET IT? Three fingers up, thumb and forefinger make the ring. It's the "handy" way to order Ballantine's Ale or Beer. All over town it's catching on. Flash this high sign at your favorite bartender. If he's in the know, he'll flash it right back, and draw one from the Ballantine's tap.

26 October 1938, Daily News (New York, NY), pg. 23 full page ad:
ALREADY -- AND IT'S BRAND NEW -- you see the 3-ring "handy" high sign popping up all over the place. place, if it's a place that has Ballantine's Ale or Beer!

19 March 1939, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pt. 4, pg. 17, col. 1:
For example you'll learn how to mix a Brown Derby Chef's Salad...the Ambassador Hotel's celebrated Black Bottom Pie...and then the Dundee Cake the Biltmore patrons rave about.
(George Rector gives the "OK" sign -- ed.)

1 August 1939, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, pg. 14, col. 3:
(There's a photo ("A Fresh Air Smile") of a Fresh Air Fund kid giving the sign -- ed.)

10 August 1939, Buckeye Tavern, pg. 7, col. 1:
You may have noted that readers are forever being advised to "Order Ballantine's Ale & Beer The 'Handy' Way." The handy way refers to what we used to call the "winged O" back in high school days. It is (Pg. 8, col. 3--ed.) made by arching the thumb and index finger of the right hand into a closed circle, and holding the remaining three fingers aloft as when lifting an imported enameled tea cup of the Ming Dynasty. If, in addition to this
signal, you can wiggle your ears, the stunt looks even better.

Now then, readers are advised to saunter up to their favorite grog stand, look the barkeep right in the eye, and then flash this "handy" signal at him. Make believe it's sign language, in other words. This is to be done, of course, with other standees giving you the stony stare and sizing you up as a dimwit.

14 September 1939, Buckeye Tavern, pg. 4, col. 4:
Also, if you ever pull that Three Fingered sign of Ballantine's beer in front of a nice Latin gal, you'll get a slap in the face.

14 July 1943, New York (NY) Times, pg. 40:
3-Ring "handy" means...
"I'm having a Ballantine!"

3 August 1943, Pic, pg. 34:
Jimmy Savo, Cafe Society star, demonstrates gestures
QUINTILIAN, 1900 years ago, described this gesture as being "graceful in approving." It's used in Ballantine's beer and Pinaud's hair-tonic ads.

War Time Recipes
For Use in the West Indies
compiled by Mrs. St. J. Hodson

Pg. (no page number):
(A chef is shown giving the "OK" sign -- ed.)

14 June 1944, San Bernardino (CA) Daily Sun, "The Roving Reporter: Newsmen Head for Invasion" by Ernie Pyle, pg. 24, col. 3:
Happy children gave us the American O.K. sign -- thumb and forefinger in a circle.

February 1945, American Restaurant magazine, pg. 7:
(An ad for "Le Gout" chicken soup base seasoning has the now-familiar "OK-sign" chef on the label -- ed.)

April 1945, American Restaurant magazine, pg. 39:
(An ad for "Le Gout" shows a photograph of the master chef himself. He kisses the circle in his fingers -- ed.)

April 1946, New Jersey Merchant-Restaurateur, pg. 26:
(A chef winks an eye, has a ladle in one hand, and does the sign with the other. His two fingers don't quite touch, and his other fingers are curved -- ed.)

January 1948, American Restaurant magazine, pg. 5:
(Ad for S. Blickman, Inc., line of food service equipment shows two diners giving the "OK" sign -- ed.)

August 1949, American Home, pg. 47:
(An ad for LA FRANCE BLUING FLAKES has a downward "OK" sign with the caption "Perfect with soap or detergent" -- ed.)

27 October 1952, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, pg. 21, col. 2:
I walked down the street at General Service with an actor. Every time he passed any one, he's smile, hold his fingers in an "O" sign and say: "Great! Very funny!"

25 May 2004, Indianapolis (IN) Star, "Cartoonist Gill Fox, 88, helped launch genres' 9The New York Times), pg. B7, col. 5:
Examples of his line drawing and advertising illustration include the betoqued chef, winking and making an A-OK sign, who was nearly ubiquitous on pizza boxes in the 1980's.

(American Dialect Society archives of author's notes)
VEGETA - Vegeta is Croatia's greatest food product. On the package is the famous chef, winking one eye and giving the "OK" sign. How old is the product and this package?

Aleksandar Brezar
The chef logo for Vegeta, Yugoslav-made spice mix, was designed by Gill Fox, artist known for his work for @DCComics
and as continuity writer for Will Eisner's Spirit. He was nominated for 2 @PulitzerPrizes for his political cartoons.
The chef also appeared on US pizza boxes.
(Vegeta is shown. -- ed.)
10:37 AM · Oct 23, 2019

Aleksandar Brezar
If so, I wonder if Gill Fox knew about it, and regardless, what he might have thought of his a-ok chef adorning practically every kitchen in the former Yugoslavia.
For comparison:
(A pizza box is shown. -- ed.)
11:20 AM · Oct 23, 2019
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, April 10, 2005 • Permalink