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 December 23, 2008
Wishbone (Wish Bone; Wishing Bone)

The “wishbone (also “wish bone” or “wishing bone") is a forked bone, named using the Latin word forcula. The bone has been called “merrythought” in England since the 1500s. In the 1850s, the bone was called “pull bone” (also “pulling bone” or “pulley bone” or Pully bone"), a term that is still used in the American South.

“Wish bone” has been cited since 1839. A Thanksgiving/Christmas tradition has been to find the wishbone of a turkey. Two people pull on the bone; the person with the larger piece of bone after it breaks in two is said to get his or her wish.


Answers.com
wishbone
n.
1. The forked bone anterior to the breastbone of most birds, formed by the fusion of the clavicles.
2. Football. An offensive formation in which the halfbacks are positioned behind and to the left and right of the fullback.
[From the superstition that when two people pull the bone apart a wish will be fulfilled for the person who retains the longer piece.]

Wikipedia: Furcula
The furcula (”little fork“ in Latin) is a forked bone found in birds and theropod dinosaurs, formed by the fusion of the two clavicles. In birds, its function is the strengthening of the thoracic skeleton to withstand the rigors of flight. Also known as a fourchette, the “wishbone” is a shared, derived characteristic of birds and many dinosaurs.

The following therapods have been found to have furculae: aves, dromaeosaurids (including a new North American species of Velociraptor), Oviraptorids, Tyrannosaurids, Troodontids,Coelophysids and Allosauroids.

In human culture
The furcula is commonly referred to as a wishbone or merrythought because of the tradition that when two people hold the two sides of the bone and pull it apart, the one who gets the larger part will have a wish granted. Today the wishbone, once removed from the turkey or chicken, is first dried and then held between the little fingers of two opposing “wishers”. Once the wish has been made the bone is pulled by each person. The wisher who breaks off a larger section of bone is assumed to have their wishes granted. Because this is commonly a Thanksgiving tradition, this bone is also called the Thanksgiving bone.

In the Southern United States, it is also referred to as pulley bone, especially when served as a piece of chicken with meat from both adjacent breasts attached.

MSN Encarta
wish·bone [ wísh bn ] (plural wish·bones)
noun
Definition:
1. V-shaped bone in bird’s breast: the V-shaped bone found between the breasts of a chicken or other bird.
Technical name furcula
2. Y-shaped suspension component: a Y-shaped component connecting the wheels to the frame in a vehicle or aircraft suspension, the single end usually attaching to the wheel and the double end to the frame
[Mid-19th century. < a tradition of pulling the bone from a cooked bird between two people to break it, the person left with the larger part then making a wish]

(Oxford English Dictionary)
wish-bone
= MERRYTHOUGHT (q.v. for reason of the name).
1860 BARTLETT Dict. Amer. (ed. 3), Wish-Bone.
1884 ROE Nat. Ser. Story vi, If I bring you a canvas-back [duck], Amy, will you put the wish-bone over the door?

25 October 1839, Vermont Phoenix, pg. 1:
From the New York Dispatch.
N. Augustus Hinchins, Esq.
A THANKSGIVING STORY.
(...)
All however, was forgotten and forgiven by the time Nahum’s next neighbor had denuded the first “wish bone” and challenged him to break it with her. “There Nahum,” roared little Ned, “you’ve got your wish, and I know what it is! Don’t you wish Ellen Smith was here now?”

Google Books
The Dowager: Or, The New School for Scandal
By Catherine Grace Frances Gore
Published by R. Bentley
1840
Pg. 125:
...and eating in a hurry, as they were only stopping to dine, the wishing bone of one of the larks stuck in her throat.

Google Books
Travels in the Californias, and Scenes in the Pacific Ocean
By Thomas J, Farnham
New York, NY: Saxton & Miles
1844
Pg. 22:
Not one would have broken a Christmas wish-bone with the prettiest girl living, to decide whether we should go below or be tumbled overboard.

Google Books
25 July 1846, The American Penny Magazine, and Family Newspaper, pg. 393, col. 1:
The sternum or broad bone on the chest, is extended far on both sides; and its point is attached to what is commonly called the breast bone, or wishing bone, only by a feeble ligament.

Google Books
The American System of Cookery:
Comprising Every Variety of Information for Ordinary and Holiday Occasions

By T. J. Crowen
Published by T.J. Crowen
1847
Pg. 72:
...make another incision close to the top of the breast bone, taking off what is called the wish bone, with the meat attached.

7 October 1847, National Era, “Recollections of Country Life” by Patty Lee, pg. 1:
Then came the breaking of the “wish-bones;” but the girls all refused to tell their wishes, excepting Hannah, who wished aloud, as she broke the mystic bone with the good-natured Mrs. Bradley, that she might have a charming beau to wait upon her home.

“Did you ever!” exclaimed the hostess.

“What a strange wish!” said the girls, hiding their faces; but the Doctor said, bowing gracefully to Hannah, who was merrily drawing the bones from the plump hand of the hostess, to see if she should get her wish, that he should be too happy, if to verify her wish were in his power.

24 December 1847, New-Bedford (MA) Mercury, pg. 4:
PROFESSOR AGASSIZ’S ELEVENTH LECTURE.
[From the N. Y. Courier & Enquirer]
(...)
Some birds do not fly. They have the breast-bone very differently shaped from the others. it is almost flat. That of other birds is made into a sharp ridge, (not the “wish bone,") on which are attached the pectoral muscles by which they fly, these form the white meat of some fowls. 

3 January 1850, National Era, “The Lost and Found: A Story of Thanksgiving Day” by Mary Irving, pg. 1:
The “wish-bone” (a great prize that) fell to the share of the shyest one, little blue-eyed Nelly, who carefully wrapped it in her white apron, as a sacred treasure.
“Coz, may I break with you,” screamed her cousin Harry, from the other end of the table.
“No; I am going to break with” --
“With whom, I should like to know?”
“With Aunt Susie, then,” said the little dove, nestling timidly to her side.”
“Aunt Susie - ha, ha! Aunt Susie would look finely breaking a wish-bone.”
“And why not, Master Harry?” said Susan, merrily. “I assure you I have broken more than one wish-bone at this very table.”
“And did your wishes ever come to pass - did they ever, Aunt Susie?” cried three voices at once.
“Yes, did they ever, Aunt Susie?” chimed in Edward, casting up from his plate a sidelong, demure glance, that brought blushes and dimples to her cheeks.
Susie had seen some quiet little flirtations, even under he father’s Argus eye. Suddenly her face grew serious. She caught Adelaide’s expression of countenance, as the latter quietly rose from the table, and made some excuse for withdrawing.
The “wish-bone” was broken to a charm - snapping exactly in the middle, to the infinite amusement of the juveniles, who had been making bets on the result.

26 December 1850, Daily Ohio Statesman, pg. 2:
A love-lorn swain broke a wish bone with his “heart’s queen,” somewhere up in New Hampshire.

1 December 1851, Weekly Eagle (VT), pg. 1:
From the National Era.
The Lost and Found.
A STORY OF THANKSGIVING DAY.
BY MARY IRVING.
(...)
The “wish-bone,” (a great prize that,) fell to the share of the shyest one, little blue-eyed Nelly, who carefully wrapped it in her white apron as a sacred treasure.

Google Books
Aunt Fanny’s Story Book, For Little Boys and Girls
(By Francies Elizabeth Mease Barrom—ed.)
New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
1853
Pg. 11:
Bella chose a merry-thought; little Sarah liked a hug-me-fast; Carry took a wishing-bone;...

January 1853, Godey’s Lady’s Book, pg. 41:
THE MERRY THOUGHT.
BY THE AUTHOR OP “MISS BREMER’S VISIT TO COOPER’S LANDING,” “GETTING INTO SOCIETY,” “BOARDING-HOUSE POLITICS,” ETC.
(...)
And there, like two very unromantic young people, to say nothing of the dignity befitting their costume, they were playfully quarrelling over a merrythought, or “wishing-bone,” as the children call it, secured from the lunch that had just been served up to the performers.

“I declare, Nan, you are not fair,” he heard Augusta say; “you have taken hold too high up, and I know you are going to wish to be my cousin, after all! Come, now, confess!”

“Nonsense, Augusta: come, pull: there now!”

13 March 1856, Farmer’s Cabinet (NH), pg. 1:
THE WISHING BONE. Abby was the youngest of five children who, on Thanksgiving day, gathered around the dinner table, with their parents, as they had done nearly every preceeding day of the year 1855. The wishing-bone fell to Abby’s plate.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (1) Comments • Tuesday, December 23, 2008 • Permalink


My husband and I decided to finally make our wish,we had misplaced our wishbone from last years thanxgiving bird. We each held one side, closed our eyes, and pulled it apart. When we heard the “snap” sound, we looked to see who got the bigger end. Believe it or not, we bot had even pieces in our hands? We are totally freaked out about this.Is it bad luck? Does it mean our wishes will come true, or neither one of us gets anything.To explain,the top part of the “Y” snapped off, I saved the pieces.If you know anything, please email me back.I’m trying to see if this ever happened to anyone before.Thanx.Jen

Posted by jen mills  on  01/07  at  12:30 AM

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