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 August 03, 2009
Banana Oil (slang for “nonsense")

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Milt Gross
Milt Gross (March 4, 1895 – November 29, 1953), was an American comic strip and comic book writer, illustrator, and animator. He wrote his comics in a Yiddish-inflected English. He originated the non-sequitur “Banana Oil!” as a phrase deflating pomposity and posing. Also for a time his character Count Screwloose’s admonition “Iggy, keep an eye on me!” became a national catch phrase. The National Cartoonist Society fund to aid indigent cartoonists and their families for many years was known as the Milt Gross Fund. As of 2005 it has been absorbed by the Society’s Foundation, which continues the charitable work of the Fund.

Life
Gross was born in The Bronx and served as a soldier in World War I.

Works
After apprenticing as a teenage assistant to T.A. Dorgan, Gross’s first comic strip was Phool Phan Phables for the New York Journal, begun when he was 20, featuring a rabid sports fan named George Phan. It was one of several short-lived comic strips (and other undertakings, including his first animated film) before his first success, Gross Exaggerations, which began as an illustrated column in the New York World. Its Yinglish vocabulary would set the tone for much of Gross’s work, as would its reworkings of well-known tales, as in “Nize ferry-tail from Elledin witt de wanderful lemp”, and “Jack witt de binn stuck” (see Jack and the Beanstalk). These were gathered in a 1926 book Nize Baby, which then evolved into a Sunday newspaper color comic strip.

(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
banan oil n. [app. an elaboration of earlier ,i>oil “flattering or unctuous talk”, on semantic model of APPLESAUCE and similar terms; S.E. sense not attested until 1926] flattering nonsense; idle talk.
1924 B. Conners Applesauce 11: Pa....He’s full of applesauce....Ma. Full of applesauce! (Amazed.) What do you mean by that? Pa. Banana oil! Soft soap! Applesauce!
1921-25 J. Gleason & R. Taber Is Zat So? 53: That same bottle of banana oil.
1926 Maines & Grant Wise-Crack Dict. 6: Banana oil—Yes, he has some.
1927 American Speech II 275: Banana oil—senseless talk.1928 McEnvoy Show Girl 5: I got to ...pour a lot of banana oil into Miss Schwartz’s ear.
1951 Longstreet Pedlocks 417: “Suppose I didn’t love you, Harry?” “Banana erl, baby.”
1956 in Russell Perm. Playboy 81: Beatrice...was drinking it all in, the booze and banana oil.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
banana-oil n. (a) = banana liquid n.; (b) slang nonsense; insincere or insane talk or behaviour; cf. applesauce n. at APPLE n. Compounds 2.
1927 WODEHOUSE in Sunday Express 16 Oct. 9/5 This is pure *banana oil. It is not like you to..gibber.
1934 H. HILER Notes Technique Painting i. 44 The watercolour fixative..is usually known as ‘banana oil’ or ‘banana solution’.
1960 P. G. WODEHOUSE Jeeves in Offing ix. 95 The sort of banana oil that passes between statesmen at conferences..before they tear their whiskers off and get down to cases.

22 December 1921, Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, NE), pg. 6, col. 5:
Q. Is there such a thing as banana oil?
R. O. F.
A. The bureau of chemistry says that there is no oil manufactured from the banana itself. There is a preparation known as isoamyl acetate which is used for gilding, etc. It has the odor of the banana and is often termed banana oil.

28 November 1923, Syracuse (NY) Herald, pg. 13:
BANANA OIL
(Milt Gross comic strip from the New York Evening World—ed.)

OCLC WorldCat record
Banana oil!
Author: Milt Gross
Publisher: New York : M.S. Pub. Co., ©1924.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
That’s banana oil
Author: Maureen Englin; Al Dubin; Jimmy McHugh; Wilhelm Gross
Publisher: Richmond, Ind. : Gennett, [1925]
Edition/Format: Music : 78 rpm : English

3 November 1926, Chester (PA) Times, pg. 19, col. 6:
SLANG AID TO
CONVERSATION
Generations Had Substi-
tutes for Banana Oil and
Applesauce

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Monday, August 03, 2009 • Permalink