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 17, 2005
Saratoga: Saratoga Potato (Chip)
Saratoga is famous for giving birth to the "potato chip" (or, Saratoga chip) in the early 1850s. I couldn't find anything that early, but below are some interesting citations.

17 November 1870, The Cultivator & Country Gentleman, pg. 728, col. 3:
Saratoga Potatoes. - Will you tell me how to cook the so-called "Saratoga" potatoes? A. L. (Slice raw potatoes, as thin and even as possible, into cold water. Fry in very hot lard and plenty of it.)

24 November 1870, The Cultivator & Country Gentleman pg. 744, col. 3:
Saratoga Potatoes. - I see an inquiry in your paper in regard to "Saratoga potatoes," or as they are called with us "shaved." A. L. can make them very fast, by using an instrument such as is used to shave smoked beef or cabbage, only have the opening in the plane very fine. Those for shaving potatoes especially are sold at all the hardware stores at Saratoga.

18 October 1873, Stevens Point (WI) Journal, pg. 1, col. 3:
And now descend we, at one full swoop, from esthetics to - potatoes.

Perhaps you know very little about these except their daintiness. You may have driven out from your hotel this summer and returned with a cornucopia of "potatoes a la Saratoga," and entertained a kind of dim fancy, if you have thought of it all, that they grow in some such mysterious way; but the original article is no more like their crisp, brown, brittle bits of deliciousness than the original "What is it" is like a civilized, cultivated man. No; the original potato is a dirty, ugly tuber, with its mother earth clinging closely around it, and needs divers and sundry operations before it can be presented to your artistic eyes.

The Queen of the Kitchen:
A Collection of "Old Maryland" Family Receipts for Cooking
by Miss Tyson
Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers

Pg. 192:
Saratoga Fried Potatoes
399. Take nicely peeled Irish potatoes, and cut them in very thin slices; throw them into cold water; ice water is best; let them remain for 1 hour; then take them out, and wipe them perfectly dry. Put a few at a time into boiling lard or beef drippings; stir them all the time to keep them from sticking to each other, or to the skillet. When fried a light brown, take them out and put others in. As you take them out of the grease, be careful not to take any with them. Put them on a sieve, and keep them near the fire until ready to dish.

Author Sweetser, M. F. (Moses Foster), 1848-1897, ed.
Title The middle states [microform] : a handbook for travellers. A guide to the chief cities and popular resorts of the middle states, and to their scenery and historic attractions; with the northern frontier from Niagara Falls to Montreal; also, Baltimore, Washington, and northern Virginia. With seven maps and fifteen plans.
Imprint Boston, J. R. Osgood and Company, 1874.

5 August 1875, Coshocton (Ohio) Age, pg.4?, col. 2:
SARATOGA FRIED POTATOES. - The following is said to be all there is of the cook's secret for producing those world-renowned potatoes served at Moon's Lake House, Saratoga Springs, every summer: Peel good-sized potatoes, and slice them as evenly as possible; drop them into ice water. Have a kettle of lard, as for fried cakes, and very hot. Put a few at a time into a towel, shake them about to dry them, and then drop into the hot lard. Stir them occasionally; and when of a light brown take them out with a skimmer. If properly done they will not be all greasy, but crisp without and mealy within.

"Our Home Favorite"
Published by
The Young Women's Home Mission Circle
of the
First Baptist Church
Saratoga Springs, N. Y.
Saratoga Springs:
The Daily Saratogian Steam Job Print


19 May 1917, Washington Post, pg. 8:
Colored Woman Reputed to Have Been 103 Years Old.
Saratoga Springs, N. Y., May 18. - Catherine A. Wieks, colored, the oldest woman in Saratoga County, died today. She would have been 103 years old next December. She was the inventor of Saratoga potato chips and was a sister of the late George Crum, who was famous 50 years ago as a roadhouse proprietor at Saratoga Lake.

Chronicles of Saratoga
by Evelyn Barret Britten
Saratoga: published privately by author

Pg. 176:
Crum was a native of Malta, the son of Abraham Speck, a jockey, who had come from Kentucky in the early days of Saratoga Springs and married an Indian girl. The inventor of potato chips was christened Crum by none other than the original Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, founder of the Vanderbilt fortunes in America, who, visiting Moon's with a party of guests, had had to wait a long time to be served, and finally had requested an attendant to ask "Crum," "How long before we shall eat?"

It was the commodore's confusion of ideas - "Crumb" and "speck" - that gave the famed Indian guide the name he carried through the rest of his life.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York State • (2) Comments • Sunday, April 17, 2005 • Permalink