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 October 13, 2012
Polyester of Lettuce (iceberg lettuce nickname)

Iceberg lettuce is a popular lettuce in the United States and is commonly served at restaurants, but it’s mostly water and doesn’t have the nutritional value or the flavor of other greens. Iceberg has been called the “polyester of lettuce” ("polyester" is a ubiquitous and cheap fiber) since at least 1979.

The saying “polyester of lettuce” is often attributed to filmmaker John Waters, but his comedy film, Polyester (1981), was made after “polyester of lettuce” was first cited in print in the 1970s.

Wikipedia: Lettuce
Crisphead – Better known as the “iceberg” lettuce, the most popular lettuce in the US, this type is very heat-sensitive and was originally adapted for growth in the northern US. It ships well, but is low in flavor and nutritional content, being composed of even more water than other lettuce types.

21 June 1979, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Slim Gourmet: Iceberg an ‘Easy-Care’ Green” by Barbara Gibbons, pg. I33:
Food snobs consider iceberg the polyester of lettuce. If it weren’t so commonly available all year long at a relatively low price (compared with other lettuce), it would be highly prized for its unique crispness and crunch. Like polyester, iceberg is “easy care.”

Google News Archive
24 March 1982, The Bulletin (Bend, OR), “Make-ahead Salad Keeps Dieting Easy” by Barbara Gibbons, pg. E5, col. 1:
Sneered at by food snobs as the polyester of lettuce because it’s so “common,” iceberg is common in restaurants precisely because it’s so wilt-resistant.

Stright Dope Message Board
Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value
04-23-2005, 09:02 AM
Nothing of substance to add to the discussion but I thought I’d throw out a John Waters line; he calls iceberg the “filthy polyester of lettuce.”

94/7fm alternative portland
by Time Waste Management w/ Greg , posted Sep 22 2008 11:06PM
WHAT?! I’m a huge fan of iceburg lettuce and am happy to hear it’s making a ‘comeback’. So what if it doesn’t have the nutrients of ‘fancy’ lettuce. It’s all about the ‘crunch’ as you bite into your favorite sammich with iceburg on it (fried bologna anyone?). Besides, you think they’d serve ‘fancy’ lettuce with homemade ‘thousand island’ dressing at a steakhouse? Hell no! Don’t call it a ‘comeback’ if it never went away. I love you iceburg lettuce, I truly do.

Iceberg lettuce goes healthier
05/22/2009 12:24:00 admin
Friday May 22, 2009 (foodconsumer.org)—Called the “polyester of lettuce,” iceberg lettuce has fallen out of flavor, so to speak, in recent years. In the ’60s and ’70s, Americans started realizing the truth behind the pale, white ball of lettuce: it is about 95 percent water and doesn’t have the flavor and nutrition of the upscale salad greens.

Eat Well with Janel
Marzetti Simply Dressed Giveaway
by Janel on December 15, 2011
Heather says:
December 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm
My absolute favorite salad is seemingly boring, but muy delicious and colorful to boot. First, you add absolute basic building block, which is field greens, preferably organic. (No iceberg! To quote John Waters, it is the polyester of lettuce.)

Black River Roasters
Café on the Green
Posted on April 17, 2012 by Ashley
Café on the Green’s salads are filled with nutritious leafy greens, which means no iceberg lettuce found here!  In place of iceberg lettuce you get spinach, fennel, arugula and watercress.  To be honest, I was not familiar with watercress before having it here, but now I want to always have it in my salad because of the nutritional value.  After doing some research to see what this forest was on my plate, I discovered that it is actually a weed that grows in almost every state alongside streams and riverbanks in the US.  Despite being a weed, it is safe to eat and is known as an “antioxidant powerhouse”, whereas iceberg lettuce is referred to as the “polyester of lettuce” and for good reasons.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Saturday, October 13, 2012 • Permalink