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 December 30, 2008
Ants on a Log (Bugs on a Log)

“Ants on a log” (sometimes called “bugs on a log”) is a children’s snack that dates to at least 1959. The most common recipe is for a celery stalk (the “log”) stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisin “ants.” Cream cheese is sometimes used instead of peanut butter; at least one recipe uses a banana “log” instead of a celery one.
“Ants on a log” has been popular with boy/girl scout troops.
A bureaucratic version of “ants on a log, floating down the river, each one thinking he is steering” dates to at least 1906.
Wikipedia: Ants on a log
Ants on a log is a popular children’s snack made by spreading peanut butter on celery and placing raisins on top. Common variations include:
. Ants on a Slip ‘n Slide - Celery w/ Peanut butter w/ a layer of honey, then the Raisins.
. Aphids on a log (sunflower seeds)
. Gnats on a log (currants)
. Ants on vacation (without “ants,” or no raisins)
. Ghost ants on a log (mini marshmallows)
. Cream cheese instead of peanut butter
. Cheese Wiz instead of peanut butter
. Chopped up celery instead of peanut butter and raisins
. Pine nuts instead of raisins
. Yellowtail instead of celery
. Pretzels instead of celery, peanut butter, and raisins
. Using chocolate chips instead of raisins
The peanut butter version of ants on a log is recommended as a healthy “Smart Snack,” comprising several food groups, by the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
15 February 1959, Minneapolis (MN) Sunday Tribune, “Playing Chef Perks Up Young Appetites” by Mary Hart, Women’s Sec., pg. 1, col. 4:
Ann Marie is working on snacks. Popcorn, cheese dips and, the other night, ants on a log have been some of the foods the family has shared.
Ants on a log are celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and dotted with raisins.
September 1962, Jack and Jill, pg. 37:
Peanut-Butter Specials
Stuffed Celery
To prepare an after-school snack, blend four tablespoons of peanut butter with two tablespoons of mayonnaise. Wash and dry several stalks of fresh celery. Now spread the peanut-butter mixture very thickly inside the curve of the celery. 
22 May 1964, Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent, “Scouts Test Their Campcraft,” pg. A10, col. 4:
... and ants-on-a-log (celery stuffed with peanut butter and raisins).
26 May 1964, Mason City (Iowa) Globe-Gazette, “Scout leaders to sample ‘ants on a log,’” pg. 7, col. 1:
CLEAR LAKE—How to make “ants on a log” will be one of the things that Girl Scout leaders will learn at the day camp leadership training session Thursday at McIntosh Woods State Park.
Mrs. Don Ebaugh, site director, said the day’s activities from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. will include cooking the noon meal.
“Ants on a log” is a salad concoction of celery stuffed with cheese topped with raisins.
7 March 1971, Manhattan (KS) Mercury, “Information brings better nutrition” by Sue Lynne Shaner, pg. 4D, col. 1:
Did you ever eat “Bugs on a Log”? Well, that’s the way Cliff Lancaster, an extension assistant who works mainly with children, gets the idea across that peanut butter, because of its protein, is a good nutrition food. The log happens to be a stick of celery with peanut butter in the groove and raisins for bugs on the top.
16 August 1971, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, “Eating Is Part Of Camp Fun” by Joann Van Wye, pg. 3, col. 4:
Birdseed, ants on a log and somores are favorites with the girls. Birdseed consists of coconut, M & M’s, raisins, marshmallows and peanuts mixed together. It comes in handy for girls who get the “munchies” on long hikes. Ants on a log is celery stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisins.
6 April 1973, Mexico (MO) Ledger, “Head Start Menus,” pg. 4, col. 5:
Thursday, snack, bugs on a log;... 
22 August 1979, Frederick (MD) News-Post, “Summer hiking foods,” pg. F3, col. 3:
Take several celery stalks and wash them. Pat dry with a paper towel. Now fill the hollow of the celery with cream cheese or your favorite cheese spread and sprinkle with paprika. There you have it—ants on a log.
You use celery washed and dried for this simple recipe too. Fill the hollow of the celery stalk with peanut butter and sprinkle with a few dark raisins.   
13 March 1980, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, “Scout Culinary Experts Demonctrate Skills,” pg. A10, col. 3:
Peanut butter
Peel an slice the bananas lengthwise. Spread top with peanut butter, stud with raisins.
April 1980, Humpty Dumpty, pg. 36:
Bug on a Log
(...) (Pg. 37—ed.)
Celery stalks cut in 5-inch strips
Peanut butter
Small carrot slices
Fill celery stalks with peanut butter.
Stick two raisins in peanut butter at one end of celery stick so that they look like eyes.
Use a tiny slice of carrot for a mouth and there you have it—a tasty little bug on a log!
4 May 1983, Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald, pg. C2, col. 8:
Canadian Western Natural Gas Company
Blue Flame Kitchen
Tested recipes
Spread celery sticks with peanut butter, or cheese whiz. Sprinkle with a few raisins and serve.
9 February 1984, Indiana (PA) Gazette, “Quick snacks delight kids,” pg. 11, cols. 1-2:
BUGS ON A LOG: You will need three stalks of celery, one grated carrot, two tablespoons of peanut butter, one tablespoon of nonfat dry milk and 24 raisins.
Wash celery and cut into three inch sections. Scrub and grate the carrot. Mix the peanut butter, dry milk and carrot in a small bowl. Use a knife to stuff celery with mixture. Place two raisins on top. Serve with glass of milk.
Google News Archive
5 March 1986, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), pg. 2F, col. 5:
Ants On A Log
Submitted by Diane Naylor (and kids), Sandy
Approximate cost; Depends upon how many logs you make, but very inexpensive
Preparation time: Less than 5 minutes
Yield: Depends upon how many you choose to make
Evaluation: Simple as can be, but nutritious and child-appealing.
Peanut butter
Wash celery and dry with paper towel. Fill celery with peanut butter and press raisins into peanut butter along length of celery to resemble “ants on a log”! 
6 September 1986, Alton (IL) Telegraph, “Rookie Cookie’s Recioe,” pg. B5, col. 3:
Bugs on a Log
You’ll need:

. celery stalks
. peanut butter or cream cheese
. raisins
What to do:
1. Cut celery in 2-inch pieces.
2. Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on celery.
3. Place raisins on top to look like bugs on a log!
22 December 1986, Christian Science Monitor, pg. 27:
The menu was “ants on a log”
By Diane Manuel  
The Peanut Butter Cookbook for Kids
by Judy Ralph and Ray Gompf
New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children
Pg. 14:
Ants on a Log and PB Flowers
1 medium apple
1 celery stalk
4 cups peanut butter
The Weirdly Untraceable Origin Story of Ants on a Log
Mara Weinraub 9/11/2019
“Ants on a log, floating down the river (to the waterfall), and each ant thinking he was steering.”
According to Barry Popkik, an etymologist and editor of the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, the “ants” in this case often represented ineffectual politicians. It’s unclear who first coined the term, however. “The saying is sometimes credited to author Mark Twain,” writes Popkik, “but there is no evidence that Twain ever said it.”
Unsurprisingly, the officiant behind the snack-phrase union is equally as opaque.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Tuesday, December 30, 2008 • Permalink

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