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 July 22, 2012
“Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder”

"Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder/beerholder” is a popular saying that has been printed on many gift items, such as T-shirts, posters and buttons. “Beer” is a modern variant to the older proverb of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

“Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder” has been cited in print since at least 1990, when it was printed on a T-shirt sold in WIldwood, New Jersey. The saying was used frequently by Texas author and humorist Kinky Friedman.

[This entry was prepared with research assistance from the Quote Investigator.]


The Free Dictionary
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Prov. Different people have different ideas about what is beautiful

The Phrase Finder
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Meaning

Literal meaning - the perception of beauty is subjective.
Origin
This saying first appeared in the 3rd century BC in Greek. It didn’t appear in its current form in print until the 19th century, but in the meantime there were various written forms that expressed much the same thought.

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
Wide-beach Wildwoods Aiming For Tourism Waves
May 27, 1990|by RANDY KRAFT, The Morning Call
(...)
A T-shirt in one of its shop windows stated: “Wildwood: If you’re not wasted, the day is.” Another depicts Calvin and Hobbs, both intoxicated, with the phrase: “Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.”

9 November 1995, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Smile when you call him Kinky” by Chris Dickinson, Get Out section, pg. 7:
As the Kinkster himself might say, “It’s all in the eye of the beer holder.”

Google Books
Beer Games 2:
The Exploitative Sequel

By Andy Griscom, et al.
Memphis, TN: Mustang Pub.
1995
Pg. 72:
Remember, our motto is “Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder,” and you, our customer with disposable income, is our top priority. Thank you for allowing us to take your money.

29 September 1996, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Kinky comes out with his puns blazing,” Editorial/Opinions, pg. 7:
The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover. By Kinky Friedman. Fiction Simon & Schuster, $23
(...)
Friedman takes nuttiness to new highs—“Beauty’s all in the eye of the beerholder” ...

10 October 1996, Washington (DC) Post, “Kinky’s mysteries are, well, kinda kinky” by Carolyn See:
The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover. By Kinky Friedman. Simon & Schuster. 238 pages. $23.
(...)
... or “beauty is in the eye of the beer holder,” ...

6 August 1998, Washington (DC) Post, “Still More: The Best T-Shirts of 1998” by Bob Levey, pg. C16:
“Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder”—and again.

Google Books
X-Treme Latin:
All the Latin You Need to Know for Survival in the 21st Century

By Henry Beard
New York, NY: Gotham Books
2004
Pg. ?:
Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder
Cervesia pota, pulchritudo cernitur

Google Books
Chicago Unzipped
Chicago, IL: Northwestern Student Holdings
2008
Pg. 144:
The store also carries a huge collection of antique metal signs perfect for wall-decor. One classic reads: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the Beerholder.

Troy (AL) Messenger
Laid-back life just fine for Pike County man
By Jaine Treadwell
Published 11:00pm Monday, July 9, 2012
(...)
Some of the advertising signs were in the shop – “Fresh Yard Eggs 10 Cents” Some Thompson bought because they were a good fit, “Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, July 22, 2012 • Permalink