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 August 03, 2009
Applesauce or Apple Sauce (slang for “nonsense”)

Entry in progress—B.P.
(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
applesauce n.
1. Theat. silly, trite comedy.
1918 Variety (Apr. 12) (vaudeville sec.) 7: Just to be back slipping on a little grease-paint, stepping forth with some comic to do “apple-sauce.”
1923 N.Y. Times (Oct. 7) VIII 4: Apple Sauce: Hokum that falls soggy like a wet towel.
1923 Sat. Eve. Post(July 12) 15: Her routine’s just a lotta apple sauce she’s copped off other comics.
2. nonsense; flattery; insincerity; lies.—also used as interj.
1919 T.A. Dorgan, in Zwilling TAD Lexicon 15: They spill a lot of applesauce about big money.
1920 in Collier’s (Jan. 1, 1921) 18: That’s all apple sauce!
1923 Witwer Fighting Blood 89; That’s all apple sauce to me.
1926 in Lardner Haircut & Others 65: Yes, Mr. Jollier, but I wasn’t born yesterday and I know apple sauce when I hear it and I bet you’ve told that to fifty girls.
1926 in Galewitz Great Comics 73: You can’t hand me none o’ that applesauce!
1928 Carr Rampant Age 132: It’s a buncha applesauce.
1943 Pyle Brave Men 137: He said that in his paintings he was trying to take the applesauce out of war, trying to eliminate the heroics with which war is too often presented.
1969-71 Kahn Boys of Summer 31: “Applesauce,” said Gordon J. Kahn. “Bosh.”
1979 International Jewellers Exchange ad (WINS radio) (Dec. 23): And so you can get the finest jewelry at the lowest possible price. And that’s no applesauce.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
apple sauce n. (and int.) N. Amer. slang (freq. as one word) nonsense; insincere flattery; lies.
1925 in R. Lardner Love Nest & Other Stories (1926) iii. 71 Yes, Mr. Jollier, but I wasn’t born yesterday and I know apple sauce when I hear it and I bet you’ve told that to fifty girls.
1934 J. O’HARA Appointment in Samarra (1935) ii. 45, ‘I just didn’t want to spoil your evening, that’s all.’ ‘Applesauce,’ said Irma.
2007 Vancouver Sun (Nexis) 19 May D2 Any notion that the Ducks were thinking, ‘Let’s win this one for Chris’ is pure applesauce.
13 September 1921, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, “Bits of New York Life” by O. O. McIntyre, pg. 6:
That, as Broadway would yodel, is “a lotta apple sauce,”—or, in more fastidious Manhattanese, “horse radish.”
3 November 1926, Chester (PA) Times, pg. 19, col. 6:
Generations Had Substi-
tutes for Banana Oil and

THE GIRL FROM RECTOR’S (Doubleday, Page & Co., Garden CIty,
NY, 1927) by George Rector, pg. 133:
(Pg. 134—ed.)
    There is an expression sweeping America to-day which I heard Corse
Payton use twenty-five years ago.  Chauffeurs (Pg. 135—ed.) toss it at
traffic policemen, traffic policemen catch it in mid-air and hurl it back,
bad boys about it at truant officers, and good little girls shrill it to
their fond parents.  Each granny tells it to grandpa and there isn’t much
doubt that grandpa has mumbled it to the manicurist in the barber shop.  That
expression is “apple sauce.”  You possibly have used it yourself without
knowing how it originated.  It started with Thatcher, Primrose, and West, who
had one of the greatest minstrel organizations ever assembled.  The
expression “apple sauce” means anything that is old, trite, and out-of-date.
This was the routine of the apple-sauce gag:

    THATCHER:  Mr. Interlocutor, a teacher has twelve pupils and only eleven
    WEST:  Yes, Mr. Tambo, a teacher has twelve pupils and only eleven
    THATCHER:  That’s right.  Now she wants to give each pupil an equal
share of the apples without cutting the apples.  How does she do it?
    WEST:  Let me see.  A teacher has twelve pupils and only eleven apples.
SHe wants to give each pupil an equal share of the apples without applying a
knife to the fruit.  How does she do it?  I must confess my ignorance.  How
does she do it, Mr. Tambo?
    THATCHER:  She made apple sauce.

    Thatcher used to get a huge laugh from this joke.  Naturally, all the
other rival minstrels grabbed it, used (Pg. 136—ed.)  it, an finally hamered
it into an early grave by too much repetition.  Audiences refused to laugh at
it any more and it was discarded.  So any other joke which is old and no good
is also called apple sauce.  There is something about this expression which
is very satisfying.  When a motorcycle cop tells you that he is going to give
you a ticket, not knowing that you are the mayor’s friend, you tell him,
“Apple sauce.”  When he hands you the ticket, you tell him, “Apple sauce.”
When you tell the judge you were going only two miles an hour, the judge
hands down the verdict of, “Apple sauce.”  And when you fork over fifteen
dollars and bounce out of the court room, the little birdies in the trees
seem to be chirping it.  I have never seen anything, outside of a sneak
thief’s skeleton key, which seemed to fit so many situations.
    In a previous chapter I spoke about the personnel of my restaurant—the
cooks, the head chefs, the waiters, and the captains.  There was one crew I
forgot to mention, and this outfit was the band of nighthawks operating the
fleet of scooped-out and sea-going hacks.  The scooped-out hack was the open
Victoria, while the sea-going vehicle was the closed hack, more like a
brougham.  Like Robin Hood’s band, they were a merry bunch of outlaws who
trimmed the rich—but failed to donate to the poor.  There were fifteen or
twenty outside of Rector’s every night, rain or shine.  Their scale of prices
depended on their victim’s condition of sobriety and knowledge of geography.
Their tactics originated the (Pg. 137—ed.) famous expression “run-around.”
A man who is giving you the run-around is trying to stall you off by using
evasive tactics.
21 April 1928, New York (NY) Evening Graphic,  “Your BROADWAY And Mine” by Walter Winchell, pg. 21:
The Wisecrack and the Gag
(From the October Bookman)
When big time vaudeville was downtown or where Mr. Keith’s Union Square Theater used to be in New York, no bill was complete without that pair who swapped this one: “If you had eleven apples and twelves horses, how would you evenly divide the apples among the twelve horses?” To which the “straight man,” or the comedian’s partner, would respond: “I don’t know, Ignatz.  How would you evenly divide eleven apples among twelve horses?”
“Why, you simply make applesauce!” was the answer and if the auditors didn’t fall right out of their chairs at that joke, then the next generation employed the tag line of the old reliable to squelch a braggart or an opinion with which they didn’t concur.
So great an army of entertainers employed the applesauce gag that it became the butt for derisive comment. It was in a class with “Who was that lady I seen you with last night?” or “Why does a chicken, etc.?” 
“Applesauce!” said some one in the gathering and another wisecrack was born. The flapper incorporated it into her routine of sassy answers, the collegiate passed it along to his townsfellows via letters and even the small-time and the big-time players “laughed off” a joke that failed to receive warm response from audiences by twitting themselves with “So we made applesauce!”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, August 03, 2009 • Permalink

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