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 September 13, 2016
“Eat shit. A billion flies can’t be wrong”

"Eat shit. A billion/million flies can’t be wrong” is a jocular saying that has been printed on many images. The joke meme started with the 1927 song title, “Fifty Million Frenchman can’t be wrong.” A 1930 publication had it said of a picnic that “ten million flies can’t be wrong.”

The joke was soon applied to restaurants. “This must be a good eating place. Fifty million flies can’t be wrong?” was cited in a 1932 newspaper. “Eat Here—50 Million Flies Can’t Be Wrong” was a restaurant sign recorded in a 1940 newspaper.

“Eat garbage. 10 million flies can’t be wrong” was cited in print in 1976. “Eat shit, a million flies can’t be wrong” was cited in 1977.


OCLC WorldCat record
Fifty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong
Author: Fred Fisher; Billy Rose; William Raskin; Jack Kaufman
Publisher: Orange, N.J. : Edison, [1927]
Edition/Format: Music : Wax cylinder Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
Male vocal with orchestra accompaniment.

1 September 1930, Illinois Farmer, “Chimney Corner,” pg. 485, col. 4:
Mrs. Jones (cleaning up after picnic lunch)—“Isn’t this an ideal spot for a picnic?”
Mr. Jones—“It must be. Ten million flies can’t be wrong.”

27 September 1932, The Enquirer and Evening News (Battle Creek, MI), “THe Watchman, pg. 4, col. 3:
Have you heard the one about he man who stopped in front of a restaurant and said, “This must be a good eating place. Fifty million flies can’t be wrong?”

30 October 1932, San Diego (CA) Union, “The Northeast Corner,” pg. 48, col. 6:
“This must be a good eating place,” remarked a man as he walked into a Kansas restaurant; “50,000,000 flies can’t be wrong.”

23 April 1938, The Billboard, “As I See It” by Dave Vine, pg. 15, col. 2:
“This is a wonderful apartment for a party. Well, 50,000,000 flies can’t be wrong.”

Google News Archive
7 December 1938, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle, pg. 3, col. 8 ad:
A million House Flies CAN’T be wrong
(Standard Oil Company of California.—ed.)

1 December 1940, Shreveport (LA) Times “From ‘Midnight’ to ‘Dawn” is 1,000-Mile Trip for This Fast-Moving Salesman” by Wells Burton, pg. B5, col. 1:
And besides these, he has pictures of signs on restaurants reading “Eat With Us Until You BUst. We’ll Notify Your Relatives” or “Eat Here—50 Million Flies Can’t Be Wrong.”

21 April 1955, Moravia (IA) Union, “This and That” by Mona and Jo, pg. 3, col. 2:
Advertisement spotted on a drive-in: “Eat Here—50 million flies can’t be wrong.”

Google News Archive
2 September 1962, Daytona Beach (FL) Sunday News-Journal, “It Says Here” by bernard Kahn (sports editor), pg. 1B, col. 1:
ANYWAY, THERE WEREN’T many dull—or still—moments with the kids in tow, believe me. They even enlivened the ride through Maiden, N. C., by calling attention to a sign hung in front of a dusty grocery store: “Good food. 4,445 country flies can’t be wrong!”

28 November 1976, Boston (MA) Sunday Globe, “Teacher collects desk top graffiti” by Carolyn Lesh (UPI), pg. B2, col. 1:
MANHATTAN, Kan.—In a large lecture room at Kansas State University an anonymous writer scratched his work onto a wooden desk top. The message: “Eat garbage. 10 million flies can’t be wrong.”

Google Books
The Handwriting on the Wall:
Toward a Sociology and Psychology of Graffiti

By Ernest L. Abel and Barbara E. Buckley
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press
1977
Pg. 107:
“Eat shit, a million flies can’t be wrong,” which in turn was originally based on the familiar saying, “Fifty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.”

Google Books
The Nowhere Idea
By Pablo Urbanyi
Toronto, ON: Williams-Wallace
1982
Pg. 31:
I remember once reading a sign on the back of a Canadian garbage disposal truck which said “Garbage is beautiful: one hundred million flies can’t be wrong.”

Twitter
Barbara Tozier
‏@logista
Quote from Stephen Fry: “Eat shit, a trillion flies can’t be wrong.”
9:29 AM - 28 Sep 2007

Twitter
Nico
‏@muskelberg
Eat shit. Millions of flies can’t be wrong.
12:19 PM - 5 Jun 2008

Google Books
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
By Geoff Dyer
New York, NY: Vintage Books
2010
Pg. 223:
In my teens there’d been a craze for offensive T-shirts and posters that urged you to ‘Eat shit - ten million flies can’t be wrong.’

Google Books
Don’t Quit - Don’t Cry
By Jacques R. Roy
Lulu Press (Lulu.com)
2012
Pg. 30:
I still remember his comment about the quality of the food: “A million flies can’t be wrong.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Tuesday, September 13, 2016 • Permalink