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 October 11, 2007
Steak Fingers (Steakfingers)

“Steak fingers” (breaded beef strips, also called “chicken-fried steak fingers” or “steakfingers”) became popular snacks at West Texas drive-ins in the 1950s and 1960s. Buddy’s Drive In (Andrews, TX) began in 1969 and claims to be “Steakfinger Headquarters,” but it did not invent “steak fingers.” Dairy Queen has had “steak fingers” on its menu since at least 1966.
“Where do steak fingers come from?”/“Cowhands” is a joke.
The Texas dish of “steak fingers” shouldn’t be confused with the Idaho dish of “finger steaks.”
Buddy’s Drive In 
The words Steakfinger Headquarters are painted in blue letters on the side of the little white building with the carport out front at 106 East Broadway (432-523-2840). And that’s no lie.
Eating steak fingers at Buddy’s is a religious experience, though not a weight loss program. The order is enormous, and it costs just $4.95. The pile of tender, tasty steak fingers probably stands half a foot high. Steak fingers, in case you didn’t know, are breaded strips of beef.
I should also mention that the steak fingers come with a bowl of creamy gravy for dipping. Very few people can finish an order all by themselves, said Marion Chapman, a waitress here for twenty- five years, so many people share.
“This one man, he had never ordered steak fingers. ‘Oh ma’am, I didn’t know you were going to bring the last supper.’ “
Buddy’s has been around since 1969. Yes there is a Buddy, though he doesn’t run the place. The owners are Minnie Coleman and Floy Robertson. Buddy is Minnie’s husband.
“We just decided to name it after him,” Floy said. “We thrashed that around for about a month. Finally, we came up with his name.”
When someone dies in Andrews, Buddy’s sends the grieving family large roasting pans of steak fingers to help them through their loss. “And the gravy that goes with it,” Floy said. “That’s better than flowers. That’s all we can give.”
Imitation being the purest form of flattery, Buddy’s name has popped up in other places. “There are some places in Houston that have signs that say they have steak fingers like Buddy’s in Andrews, Texas,” Floy said.
“There’s a restaurant in New York that has the same thing inside. A guy from Odessa said he and his wife were visiting in downtown New York, and the first thing they saw was a sign that said they had steak fingers like Andrews, Texas.” Maybe so, but a pile of steak fingers like they serve at Buddy’s would cost you about $99 in New York City. 
South Texas Dairy Queen Menu
Steak Finger Country Basket
It’s a Texas original that has made Texas Dairy Queen stores famous for almost 50 years! Juicy steak fingers, crisp French fries, Texas toast, and creamy country gravy make the Steak Finger Country Basket* a great meal for lunch or dinner. Have a four-piece Basket, or if you’re really hungry, go for a 6-piece Country Basket*. Some Texas stores also offer an 8-piece Country Basket*.
All Recipes
Steak Fingers
“Easy to make and a favorite of my family. Excellent with french fries and a salad!!”
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 pound round steak
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour for coating
Tenderize steak by pounding with a mallet. Cut into 3 inch long strips.
Combine egg, milk, salt and pepper in a shallow dish, whisk until well blended.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1/3 cup oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of the pan).
Coat steak pieces in flour. Shake off excess. Then dip in the egg mixture and again in flour.
Fry the strips in the hot oil until golden brown; about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb oil. 
Round steak, sprinkle with meat tenderizer and let stand 1 hour. Cut into bite size or finger size pieces. Combine and dip meat pieces in 2 eggs, milk, Worcestershire sauce then roll in flour, then deep fry.
USTA’s Institute of Texan Cultures
How Chicken-Fried Steak Got Its Name
Virginia Jones
Birth: November 28, 1940
“Texas People Have Such a Love Affair”
Note: This interview with Virginia Jones from the Cactus Cafe in West Texas was done at the 13th Texas Folklife Festival in 1984. 
Have you any idea where all this started? Where is chicken-fried steak coming from? And what, in your opinion, is the right way to make it?
My husband thinks that possibly it came from the wiener schnitzel in Germany, because German people did come and settle in Southwest Texas. He thinks that probably-and further west, where beef is so popular-that they just kind of devised a recipe for themselves.
We make our chicken-fried steak pretty much the way I make it at home, and that is, we get regular round steak, and we have it only tenderized one time so that it will hold together. We cut it ourselves, cut the cutlets into steak fingers, put it in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, and tenderizer. Then, in a mixture of eggs and milk, kind of let it drip out, and then back into another mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. And then we quick-freeze them to bring them to the Folklife Festival.
You make them into fingers. That’s not normal in a café, is it? Or in a restaurant? Or in a home?
In West Texas, steak fingers are very popular. Except, usually, if you order them out, you will get what we call pre-fab meat that has the soybeans and is preformed. Ours is not. Ours is actually cut from the beef.
You said flour and salt and pepper. Is there any-there’s no hot stuff-no chili-no picante?
No, nothing.
You fry it?
What do you fry it in?
We fry them in just deep fryers. Yes, in deep fat. The way to fry chicken-fried steak is to fry it quickly, where it will get crusty on the outside and still remain tender on the inside as opposed to chicken that, you know, gets crusty on the outside, but you have to cook it a long time to get it done inside. You don’t have to cook chicken-fried steak really all that long to get it done on the inside. Of course, you don’t want it dried out. You want it to remain tender.
Uh-huh. But you do the fingers always.
No. Not always. Not always, no. The reason we’re doing the fingers here is because people are eating with their hands.
It’s easier to serve.
And it’s easier to serve. You will find it in fast foods, like Dairy Queen sells chicken-fried steak fingers.
3 September 1934, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. 5, col. 3:
Buns, butter, barbecue sauce, individual steak fingers, corn on the cob, coffee, watermelon made up the menu.
7 November 1951, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald,  pg.9 9, col. 3 ad:
Chicken in the Basket
Chicken in the Box
Steak Fingers in the Basket  
30 December 1952, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, pg. 12, col. 2 ad:
Steak Fingers in Basket…65c
5 November 1953, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, pg. 2A, col. 5 ad:
Take Home Specials
All Served in Baskets with Plenty of French Fries:
Steak Fingers
11 November 1953, Dallas (TX) Morning News, Julie Benell’s Recipe, part 2, pg. 1:
For easy eating prepare steak finger sandwiches from a steak that is one and one-half inches thick. Brush it on both sides with garlic butter and broil or grill over hot coals, turning several times and brushing with garlic butter each time. When the steak reaches the desired stage of “doneness"cut in half-inch strips, place each strip in a hot frankfurter roll and serve.
23 June 1954, Ada (OK) Evening News, pg. 10, col. 2 ad:
Our Menu Features:
Charcoal Broiled Hamburgers
Fish and Chips
Steak Fingers
24 September 1955, El Paso (TX) Prospector, pg. 7, col. 2 ad:
Have You Seen Our New Cinebar?
Serving only the Finest in Foods, Southern Fried Chicken, Steak Fingers & Jumbo Shrimp, all served with French Fries & Hot Rolls.
4 May 1957, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, pg. 10, col. 1 ad:
Steak Fingers
French Fries, Garlic Toast, Boxed To Go!
2 July 1957, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, pg. 12, col. 2 ad:
Fiesta Drive In Theatre
Fiesta Snack Bar Features: Southern Fried Chicken, Tasty Steak Fingers, Fried Jumbo Shrimp, all served with Golden Brown French Fries, Hot Buttered Rolls, and a Donut.     
19 February 1959, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, pg. 40, col. 3 ad:
CLOCK Drive-Ins
Breaded Golden Brown Steak Strips, French Fries, Toasted Buttered Rolls
31 March 1959, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, pg. 17, col. 5:
Steak Fingers…95c  
Chicken Carousel
1 July 1960, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Recipes of the Day” by Julie Benell, section 3, pg. 4: 
Have your meat man cut filets or strips at least 1 1/2 inches thick. Brush the meat on both sides with garlic butter and broil over the charcoal or in the oven. When done, cut in half-inch strips, place one or two strips on a hot frankfurter roll or a hamburger bun, and serve plain or with a spicy barbecue sauce.
17 October 1961, Amarillo (TX) Globe-Times, pg. 12, col. 2 ad:
Steak Fingers for 75c
4 steak fingers with Hidy fries, heart of lettuce with dressing, buttered sesame seed bun, drink and dessert.
30 October 1964, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, pg. 12A, col. 1 ad:
Steak Fingers 73c
13 April 1966, Hobbs (NM) Daily News-Sun, pg. 6, col. 7 ad:
Steak Fingers and Shrimp Also Served in the Box.
30 September 1966, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, pg. 11C, col. 1 ad:
Steak Fingers
in a basket
22 January 1969, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section A, pg. 13 ad:
Steak Finger Patties
Winkin Chef Breaded… LB. 89c
12 June 1969, Dallas (TX) Morning News section E, pg. 17 ad:
Gooch - All Meat
Steak Fingers
12-oz. pkg. 79c
29 December 1972, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section C, pg. 11 ad:
Steak Finger Basket
Sale only 79c
Enjoy a delicious Steak Finger Basket. Special sale Price, only 79c!! That’s Golden, Scrumptious Steakfingers, Crispy Fries, Texas Toast and Real Country Gravy.
Google Books
Plowboys, Cowboys, and Slanted Pigs
by Jerry Flemmons
Fort Worth, TX: TCU Press
Pg. 104:
For the record, Texas also invented the ice cream sundae, the Margarita, frozen steak fingers, corn chips, stadium nachos and the Marpeani, which is a regular martini except that the olive is replaced by a blackeyed pea.   
Google Books
a novel by Larry McMurtry
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
Pg. 162:
The twins were slurping malts and foraging at will from a heap of cheeseburgers, French fries, nachos, steak fingers, tacos, and other delicacies.
Google Books
Amarillo by Morning
by Bay Matthews
New York, NY: Silhouette Books
Pg. 136:
Russ smiled. “If you disregard Dairy Queen’s steak fingers, they have the only chicken-fried steak in town.”
Google Books
The $100 Hamburger:
A Guide to Pilots’ Favorite Fly-In Restaurants
by John F. Purner
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Pg. 282:
Andrews, TX
Buddy’s Drive Inn
If you like REAL steak fingers, go to Buddy’s Drive Inn. The steak fingers are sliced from round steak fillets and deep fried to a golden brown. The portions are huge, you WON’T go away hungry. The price is about $6 per parson, and they have doggie bags on hand.
Google Books
Texas Road Trip
by Bryan Woolley
Fort Worth, TX: TCU Press
Pg. 21:
They go for the box dinners of chicken strips, steak fingers, fried cod, or shrimp, served with fries, a corn fritter, toast, and a pickle.
(Sky-Vue Drive-In in Lamesa—ed.)
Buddy’s to serve up steak fingers again
By Ruth Campbell
Staff Writer
Midland Reporter-Telegram
ANDREWS—Buddy’s Drive-In, temporarily closed five months ago, reopens Wednesday with new but familiar owners.
Kelsey Robertson, grandson of Floy Robertson who co-founded the restaurant with Minnie Coleman, and Mary Anderson, a former waitress, have assumed ownership. The restaurant, at 106 E. Broadway in Andrews, is named after “buddies” Robertson and Coleman.
“My grandmother was one of the original owners of the restaurant. I’m pretty much opening it as a tribute to her and her partner,” said Robertson, who grew up at the eatery and is the nephew of former co-owner Bonnie Duncan.
“It’s something I always wanted to do. I feel like I need to do it for my grandmother. We’ve got a lot of restaurants here in town serving steak fingers, but nothing compares to what we’ve got,” he added.
Robertson said he, friends, family and former employees spent about two weeks cleaning and remodeling Buddy’s for its re-opening.
The eatery will have about 10 employees and feature the same steak fingers that made it famous. “We’re hoping to put it back to the style of steak fingers my mother and Minnie started with,” Robertson said.
The Andrews Chamber of Commerce constantly gets calls about the eatery’s steak fingers.
Google Books
Identity Envy: Wanting to Be Who We’re Not
Creative Nonfiction by Queer Writers
edited by Jim Tushinski and Jim Can Buskirk
Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press
Pg. 25:
In Europe, I dream of Texas. (...) I do not dream of fried rabbit with calf brains, roasted cingale, or petite, discrete, and oh-so-chic gelato. My slumber binges center on Tex-Mex victuals, and I do not mean the anemic concoctions of California, New Mexico, or Oregon. I crave the real grub of carne guisada, pico de gallo, and chili con carne. On the pure Tex side: steak, steak fingers, and chicken-fried steak. Texas toast and endless iced tea. Frito Pie and Snickers Bar Cake. Dripping saved for gravy.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Thursday, October 11, 2007 • Permalink

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