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 30, 2004
Chicken and Waffles
Harlem likes to take credit for the combination of "chicken and waffles." Several recent articles claim that Wells Supper Club started the tradition there in 1938.

It isn't so.

"Chicken and waffles" had been served in Pennsylvania Dutch Country long before that.

Does it really matter? Will you not eat a Nathan's hot dog because Coney Island didn't invent the frankfurter?

Here are some citations.

But who put the waffle side by side with fried chicken? A Harlem restaurant named the Wells Supper Club has trademarked the logo "Wells: Home of Chicken and Waffles Since 1938," and claims to have started selling the dish to clubgoers in the dusk of the Jazz Age, ostensibly as a late-night snack for folks who couldn't decide between breakfast and dinner.

But Edge thinks the origins of the dish go farther back, brought to New York in the great migration of African Americans from the South. "My guess is that it comes from the days when someone would go out in the morning and wring a chicken's neck and fry it for breakfast. Preparing a breakfast bread with whatever meat you have on the hoof, so to speak, comes out of the rural tradition."

From William Woys Weaver, Sauerkraut Yankees: Pennsylvania Dutch Foods & Foodways (2002), pg. 132:
"Pennsylvania Dutch waffles could also be used for simple
meals, dispensing with the sugar and spices, and served like toast with
chicken or meat and a thick gravy, thus elevating them to the level of a main
course or substitute roast. Chicken and waffles was a particularly popular
combination among the Dutch of central Pennyslvania well into the 1920s."

Title: Wanted: a Pedigree ([1871])
Author: Finley, Martha, (1828-1909)
Print Source: Wanted--a pedigree
Finley, Martha,
New York : Dodd, Mead, [1871].
Extent: xii, 528 p.
Pg. 341: "Aunt Dinah's chicken and waffles will be getting cold, and the
good old soul will be quite vexed and troubled."

p. 973 1 match of 'chicken and waffles' in:
Title: Harper's new monthly
magazine. / Volume 88, Issue 528
Publisher: Harper & Bros. Publication Date: May, 1894
City: New York Pages: 1040
"You can get bully fried chicken and waffles."

13 January 1883, Stevens Point (WI) Journal, pg. 8?,
col. 5:
The _Interior_ ascribes the frequency of divorce in New England, so much
commented on in Massachusettsw of late, to too much attention to the head and
too little to the stomach. "It is not in human nature to stand so much of
George Eliot with so little to eat. Who ever heard of getting a divorce from a
girl who knows the mysteries of fried chicken and waffles?"
15 October 1887, Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California), pg.4?, col.
Afterward when ever she knew Brewster was to take dinner at our house we
had waffles and chicken that beat the world.--_Pittsburg Dispatch_.
19 September 1889. Indiana (PA) Democrat, pg. 3?, col.
On Wednesday night of last week a party of our young poeple drove to
Shelocta for chicken and waffles.
15 April 1891, Indiana (PA) Weekly Messenger, pg. 3?,
col. 3:
Just while our spirits were at the lowest ebb an invitation came from the
proprietor of the Clawson House to come down and partake of chicken and
8 June 1893, Indiana County (PA) Gazette, pg.3?, col.
TEN couples of our young folks enjoedy (sic) chicken and waffles at the
residence of Mr. Jack Hauxhurst, Friday night.
16 December 1896, Indiana )PA) Progress, pg.1, col. 6:
Chicken and waffles, oysters, fruits and all the good things of the season
will be served.
29 September 1897, Indiana (PA) Messenger, pg.3?, col.
There will be fruits, ice cream, oysters, chicken and waffles and other
good things to eat and all will be sold at bargain prices.
15 November 1898, Gettysburg (PA) Star Sentinel, pg. 3?, col.
Wednesday night, Chicken and Waffles, 25 cents.
18 January 1901, News (Frederick, Maryland), pg. 3?, col. 3:
The menu embraced fried chicken and waffles, baked ham and rolls, broiled
sausage and Maryland biscuits, homemade bread, water crackers, cucumber
pickles, cabbage pickle, apple and peach butter, preserved strawberries, golden
syrup, honey, smearcase and giner crackers, coffee and tea.
27 December 1906, Indiana (PA) Evening Gazette, pg.1,
col. 5:
The party made merry rehearsing old school-time stories and incidentally
partaking of some of Mrs. Hauxhurst's famous chicken and waffles.
4 February 1910, Gettysburg (PA) Times, pg. 1, col.
After enjoying a delicious supper of chicken and waffles all departed for
their homes.
Posted by Barry Popik
Food/Drink • Monday, August 30, 2004 • Permalink

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