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 April 11, 2005
Papaya & Hot Dogs ("Tastier Than Filet Mignon")
Papaya King started the Manhattan trend of hot dogs and papaya juice back in the 1930s. There have been many imitators. Gray's Papaya is very good, and a Papaya Dog recently opened on Sixth Avenue and West Fourth Street, near NYU.

Papaya King plans to expand nationwide starting in 2005. It's trademark phrase is that its hot dogs are "tastier than filet mignon."

http://www.papayaking.com/html/history.htm
In 1923, a 16-year-old Greek boy named Gus Poulos arrived at the docks of Ellis Island from Athens, Greece, with no contacts and his family left behind. Penniless, but industrious and driven, Gus quickly immersed himself in the spirited mood of the roaring 20's and set his sights on achieving the American Dream. Working at a deli in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, it didn't take long for the hard-working Gus to make his mark. Within three years, he bought the business outright.

Now that he was a business owner, Gus was able to take his first vacation and, like many Americans, set his sights on the sunny beaches of Miami, Florida. When he got there, he noticed the plentiful supplies of excellent fruit: oranges, mangoes, grapefruit, bananas, pineapples and most importantly, papayas. He quickly came to love various concoctions of fruit juices.

When he got back to New York, he went looking for papayas and other tropical fruits to satisfy his newly acquired craving. None could be found. At that time, Florida was a world away by train and most tropical fruits were unknown to New Yorkers. In 1931, after several years of planning and developing fruit sources, Gus decided to sell his deli and open his first juice store, Hawaiian Tropical Drinks, Inc.

At first, no one came. His store piled high with perishable tropical fruits, Gus decided that if he couldn't sell his drinks, he would give them away rather than letting the fruit go to waste. So he hired waitresses to dress up in traditional Hawaiian skirts and had them stand on the corner handing out free glasses of fruit drinks as Gus worked a blender inside the store.

It didn't take long for New Yorkers to get hooked. Soon he had lines forming outside his shop on the days of his fresh fruit deliveries and the legend of his papaya drinks began to spread. In 1935, he opened another store in Brooklyn, and in 1937, he set up his third shop in Philadelphia. He expanded his drink lines to include fresh-squeezed strawberry shakes and coconut drinks mixed with papaya juice. Despite his success, however, he knew something was missing.

Gus' first store was on 86th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, which at the time was heavily populated with German and Polish immigrants. One day while trying to impress a young German-American woman named "Birdie" on his newly purchased roller skates, Gus took a fall and badly injured his ankle. The young lass took pity on him and helped him during his recuperation, bringing him food from the German establishments in the neighborhood. Gus quickly took a liking to all things German, and after he and Birdie decided to marry, he introduced the frankfurter to his juice stand. The rest is history.

As the decades passed, Gus' fruit stands grew in stature and fame. Gus opened several more outlets in New York and even opened restaurants as far away as Baltimore and Miami. Though still officially the Hawaiian Tropical Drinks Company, a regular patron (reportedly a Brooklyn Dodger baseball player who became addicted to Gus' fare) had dubbed Gus the "Papaya King," and customers began to refer to the fruit stands as "The Papaya King."

By the 1950's, the "Papaya King's" fame had spread across the country and the original store on 86th Street began to attract worldwide attention. Early in the 1960's, he agreed to officially change the name of the store to Papaya King. Travel guides began to hone in on the corner frankfurter shop as an essential New York City pit stop.

13 December 1975, New York Times, pg. 22:
Gus Poulos of Papaya King is charging 30 cents for the same amount of the drink he originated, and, in an attempt to get the Nathan's forces where they live, has cut his frankfurter to 25 cents.

21 August 1991, New York Times, pg. C4:
Gimme the Mustard and Another Plat du Jour
By BRYAN MILLER
(...)
PAPAYA WORLD, 200 West 42d Street (Seventh Avenue).
PAPAYA PARADISE, 23d Street and Lexington Avenue.
PAPAYA KING'S original shop, 59th Street and Third Avenue. (...)The hot dogs, a sign overhead proclaims, are "tastier than filet mignon." Well, suffice to say that they are good, and are served on warm rolls.
PAPAYA PLACE, 200 West 14th Street.
PAPAYA JACK, Eighth Avenue at 36th Street.
PAPAYA WORLD II, Second Avenue and 61st Street.
PAPAYA KING, Third Avenue and 86th Street.
GRAY'S PAPAYA, 2090 Broadway (72d Street).

21 August 1991, New York Times, pg. C1:
New York Puts
Its Papaya
Where Its
Hot Dogs Are
By DENA KLEIMAN
(...)
"Hot dogs and papaya are a New York institution," said Larry Feierstein, the vice president of marketing for Nathan's Famous, one of the few non-papaya hot dog emporiums in New York.
(...)
The owners of Papaya King would like to believe that the teaming of papaya and hot dogs began 63 years ago when a young Greek immigrant named Constantine Poulos returned from a vacation to Cuba and decided to introduce something he had sampled in the tropics - a papaya drink - at his hot (Pg. C4 - ed.) dog stand at 86th Street and Third Avenue.

8 November 2004, Washington Post, "Let's Do Launch: A New York Chain Rolls Out Its Hot Dogs, and Hopes They'll Be Met With Relish," by David Segal, pg. C1:
This local treasure will soon go national, if all goes according to plan. Papaya Kings are supposed to start popping up around the country in hundreds of malls, airports and main streets -- including sites in Washington and Baltimore -- in the coming months and years.
(...)
The Papaya King story started in 1932, soon after a Greek immigrant and deli owner named Gus Poulos came across papaya and mango concoctions on vacations in Florida and Cuba. When he couldn't find anything like it in Manhattan, he closed his deli and started selling juice. Hawaiian Tropical Drinks, as the place was then known, looks in photos like a tiki bar, with bananas and pineapples hanging from the ceiling and a long counter lined with imitation jungle grass.

The neighborhood was then composed largely of German and Eastern European immigrants, so hot dogs were added to the menu in 1937, giving rise to what's got to be one of the strangest food-and-drink combinations in the history of takeout. Poulos changed the name of his company after a customer, purportedly a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, dubbed him "Papaya King."

(Trademark)
Word Mark PAPAYA KING
Goods and Services IC 035. US 101. G & S: RESTAURANT SERVICES AND FRANCHISING SERVICES-NAMELY, RENDERING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT AND/OR OPERATION OF SNACK BARS FEATURING THE SALE OF PAPAYA DRINKS AND HOT DOGS. FIRST USE: 19730110. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19730110
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 020103 020133 020901 080502 241102
Serial Number 72452871
Filing Date March 16, 1973
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 1007703
Registration Date March 25, 1975
Owner (REGISTRANT) PAPAYA KING OF AMERICA, INC. CORPORATION NEW YORK 179 EAST 86TH STREET NEW YORK NEW YORK 10028
(LAST LISTED OWNER) PK OPERATIONS, INC. DBA PAPAYA KING CORPORATION DELAWARE 14TH FLOOR 711 5TH AVENUE NEW YORK 10022
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record MONICA P. MCCABE
Disclaimer NO REGISTRATION RIGHTS ARE CLAIMED HEREIN FOR THE WORD "PAPAYA" AND THE REPRESENTATION OF A "HOT DOG" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN, THE APPLICANT, HOWEVER, WAIVES NONE OF ITS COMMON LAW RIGHTS IN SAID MARK OR ANY FEATURE THEREOF.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20041129.
Renewal 2ND RENEWAL 20041129
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

(Trademark)
Word Mark GRAY'S PAPAYA
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Fast food restaurant chain. FIRST USE: 19800101. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19800101
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 78075901
Filing Date July 26, 2001
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Owner (APPLICANT) Nicholas A.B. Gray INDIVIDUAL UNITED KINGDOM 241 West 36th Street, 11th Floor New York NEW YORK 10018
Attorney of Record Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date April 18, 2002

(Trademark)
Word Mark PLANET PAPAYA
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: restaurant services - "fast-food" restaurant serving hamburgers, frankfurters, natural juice drinks and related items. FIRST USE: 19960101. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19960101
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 75194738
Filing Date November 7, 1996
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Owner (APPLICANT) Weisberg, Barry L. INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 134 State Street Brooklyn NEW YORK 11201
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date December 4, 1997

(Trademark)
Word Mark BETTER THAN FILET MIGNON
Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 030. US 046. G & S: Frankfurter Sandwiches for Consumption On or Off the Premises. FIRST USE: 19751000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19751000
(CANCELLED) IC 042. US 100. G & S: Restaurant Services Featuring Frankfurter Sandwiches. FIRST USE: 19751000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19751000
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73188719
Filing Date October 10, 1978
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition September 22, 1981
Registration Number 1182347
Registration Date December 15, 1981
Owner (REGISTRANT) Papaya King of America, Inc. CORPORATION NEW YORK 1545 3rd Ave. New York NEW YORK 10028
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Ostrolenk, Faber, Gerb & Soffen
Disclaimer Applicant disclaims the words "Filet Mignon" apart from the mark as shown.
Type of Mark TRADEMARK. SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date September 21, 2002

(Trademark)
Word Mark "OUR FRANKFURTERS ARE TASTIER THAN FILET MIGNON"
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: FOOD PRODUCTS-NAMELY, SPECIALLY PREPARED FRANKFURTER SANDWICHES, FOR CONSUMPTION ON OR OFF THE PREMISES. FIRST USE: 19751000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19751000
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73170049
Filing Date May 11, 1978
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition February 3, 1981
Registration Number 1152582
Registration Date April 28, 1981
Owner (REGISTRANT) PAPAYA KING OF AMERICA, INC. CORPORATION NEW YORK 1545 3RD AVE. NEW YORK NEW YORK 10028
(LAST LISTED OWNER) PK OPERATIONS, INC. DBA PAPAYA KING CORPORATION BY ASSIGNMENT DELAWARE 711 5TH AVENUE, 14TH FLOOR NEW YORK NEW YORK 10022
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record MONICA PETRAGLIA MCCABE
Disclaimer APPLICANT MAKES NO CLAIM TO THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE TERMS "FRANKFURTERS" AND "FILET MIGNON" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN.
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20011109.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20011109
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE


Posted by Barry Popik
Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Monday, April 11, 2005 • Permalink