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 June 08, 2011
“He who dies with the most toys wins”

"He who dies with the most toys wins” is a materialist saying that has been cited in print since at least 1980. The saying has appeared on T-shirts and bumper stickers, but the exact authorship is unknown.

“He who dies with the most toys still dies” is a jocular variation of the saying.


Wikipedia: The Most Toys
“The Most Toys” is a 1990 episode from the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode involves Lieutenant Commander Data being kidnapped by an obsessive collector, who leads the Enterprise crew to believe that Data was killed in a shuttlecraft accident. The episode’s title comes from a popular saying found on bumper stickers and t-shirts in the 1980s which read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” The episode aired during the third season.

29 October 1980, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), Hardy Price column, pg. Extra 13, col. 1:
THIS AND THAT—Artist Fritz Sholder told fellow artist Earl Linderman he saw the ultimate-message T-shirt while on a recent visit to Beverly Hills.

The message? “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

3 February 1981, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, Walt Evans column, pg. B2, col. 1:
Howard Leendertsen has come up with the perfect T-shirt for the East Side. It says: “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

28 February 1981, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), sec. 1, pg. 3, col. 1 ad: 
“After all, he who dies with the most toys wins.”
(American sporting goods ad—ed.)

1 October 1982, Seattle (WA) , Paul Andrews column, pg. D2, col. 1:
T-shirt slogan on downtown street person: “He Who Dies with the Most Toys Wins.” Words for an era to live by.

Google Books
Bluebird Canyon
By Dan MacCall
New York, NY: Congdon & Weed
1983
Pg. 344:
It said, HE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS.

27 November 1983, Miamia (FL) Herald, “Race a la Kart,” pg. 1BR:
Smith wore a jetblack T-shirt that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

Google News Archive
17 May 1984, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Home-O-Rama returns in North,” pg. 16, col. 4:
The motto on the wall says, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

Google Books
June 1984, Mother Jones, pg. 44, col. 1 ad:
THE ONE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS
(T-shirt ad—ed.)

28 October 1984, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Old Toy Soldiers March On” By Alan Maltun, pg. SG1:
On his pencil holder is inscribed the motto, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Wednesday, June 08, 2011 • Permalink