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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Soviet Poverty Lie Center (Southern Poverty Law Center or SPLC nickname) (8/21)
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The TW in Twitter stands for Time Wasted” (8/21)
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Entry from October 24, 2010
“Chicken today, feathers tomorrow”

"Chicken today and feathers tomorrow” (or “chicken today, feathers tomorrow") means that one can be successful one day (and eat chicken) and unsuccessful the next (and have nothing to eat). The saying has been popular in the gambling and racetrack worlds since at least 1896—when Henry Watterson of the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal used it—and is of unknown authorship.


Yahoo! Answers
What does “Chicken Today, Feathers Tomorrow” mean?
I asked my boss how he was doing and he just replied “Chicken today, feathers tomorrow.”
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
It’s an old expression meaning that things are OK right now, but the future is uncertain. We might have a plump bird for dinner today, but there could be nothing to eat tomorrow, only the leftover feathers.

14 August 1896, Sioux City (IA) Journal, “Watterson on Gambling,” pg. 2:
And yet the gambler is always poor. With him it is perpetually a feast or a famine, chicken today and feathers tomorrow.

Chronicling America
1 May 1900, Honolulu (HI) Evening Bulletin, pg. 4, col. 2:
All they have got out of it is numerous kicks and cuffs, occasional support, occasional condemnation, chicken today, feathers tomorrow.

Google Books
May 1903, Official Journal of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paperhangers of America, pg. 280, col. 1:
Now my experience with painters north, south, east and west, teaches me the following synopsis of their characters: Independence, resentful of charity, improvident of or for the future, i. e., “Chicken today and feathers tomorrow,”...

Google Books
The Pack Peddler
By William Lee Provol
Philadelphia, PA: The John C. Winston Company
1937
Pg. 205:
Chicken today and feathers tomorrow was the gambler’s luck.

Google Books
The devil learns to vote:
The story of Montana

By Christopher Powell Connolly
New York, NY: Covici, Friede
1938
Pg. 126:
Struggling professional men stepped into positions commanding large salaries; with many of the lawyers, it was the usual chicken today and feathers tomorrow, and they remembered the adage of the old lawyer who said: “First get on, then get honor, then get honest.”

OCLC WorldCat record
Chicken today, feathers tomorrow
Author: Belle Taylor Hinther
Publisher: Bend, Or. : Maverick Publications, 1985.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English

Vegas Sports Masters
CHICKEN OR FEATHERS, OR FEATHERS OR CHICKEN IT DOES NOT MATTER IN A BETTING WORLD WHERE THERE ARE UNLIMITED CHANCES TO WIN
By Kelso Sturgeon
Submitted by kelso on Thu, 2008-03-13 23:00
As we used to say when I was working on the race track: “chicken today and feathers tomorrow”, or was that “feathers today and chicken tomorrow?” It really did not matter in which order one placed these two phrases, because both were true in a world where we were all on the hustle and just lived for another chance, another opportunity.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 24, 2010 • Permalink