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 May 05, 2009
“If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?”

"If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?” This play on words has been used since at least 1915, when the joke appeared in the Philadelphia (PA) Public Ledger.

A similar joke is “If peanut butter cookies are made from peanut butter, then what are Girl Scout cookies made out of?”


Google Books
May 1915, Lippincott’s Magazine, pg. 140, col. 1:
ANSWERED
“Dad, what do they call a man who eats only vegetables?”
“A vegetarian, son.”
“And one who eats people?”
“A humanitarian. Now run along and play.”—Philadelphia Public Ledger.

Google Books
November 1915, American Club Woman Magazine, pg. 99, col. 2:
Answered — “Dad, what do they call a man who eats only vegetables?”
“A vegetarian, son.”
“And one who eats people?”
“A humanitarian. Now run along and play.”

Google Books
November 1915, The Railway Conductor, pg. 872, col. 2:
Inquisitive Boy.
“Dad, what do they call a man who eats only vegetables?”
“A vegetarian, son.”
“And one who eats people?”
“A humanitarian. Now run along and play.”—Philadelphia Public Ledger.

3 November 1949, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “In the Wake of the News,” part 4, pg. B1:
If a vegetarian eats vegetables does that make a humanitarian a cannibal?—Rusty Rust.

Frank and Ernest (cartoons)
1982-09-27
A VEGETARIAN?
HOW INTERESTING…
I’M A HUMANITARIAN MYSELF

26 September 1989, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Choice words on our lunatic Mother Tongue” by Steve Johnson, Tempo section, pg. 1:
After decades spent cozying up to palindromes, malaprops, oxymora and other, untitled incrongruities of English, Richard Lederer—no shunner of puns, either—has become a richer letterer than most.

With an inaugural printing of 45,000 copies, according to Lederer, “Crazy English” might be described as the book that asks the persnickety questions, “If we conceive a conception and receive at a reception, why don’t we grieve a greption and believe a beleption? . . . If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If a firefighter fights fire, what does a freedom fighter fight? . . . If pro and con are opposites, is congress the opposite of progress?”

T-shirt from Zazzle.com
Someone who eats vegetables is a vegetarian So a Cannibal must be a Humanitarian
created by cconrick (1/31/2008 3:10 AM)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, May 05, 2009 • Permalink