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 27, 2012
“More exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t is a wife who can’t cook and will”

A joke appeared in the Chicago (IL) Record-Herald in 1901:

“There are only two kinds of cooks.”
“For instance?”
“Those who can’t cook and will cook—and those who can cook and won’t.”


Harper’s Bazar‘s 1911 version of the joke specified that the cook in question is a wife:

Tightwad—Is there anything more heart-rending to have a wife who can cook, but won’t do it?
Dyspeptic—Yes—to have one that can’t cook and will do it.


The American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) was credited in 1949 with, “There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t, and that’s the wife who can’t cook and will.” Frost (not known for humorous sayings) is usually credited with the line today but, while he definitely did say it, the joke was almost 50 years old when he did.


16 May 1901, Boston (MA) Herald, pg. 11, col. 8:
CULINARY.
“There are only two kinds of cooks.”
“For instance?”
“Those who can’t cook and will cook—and those who can cook and won’t.”
-- Chicago Record-Herald

Chronicling America
27 November 1911, Omaha (NE) Daily Bee, pg. 4, col. 7:
Tightwad—Is there anything more heart-rending to have a wife who can cook, but won’t do it?
Dyspeptic—Yes—to have one that can’t cook and will do it.
-- Harper’s Bazar,

PapersPast
1 November 1919, New Zealand Truth (Wellington, NZ), “The Critic,” pg. 1, col. 5:
Two bad wives: A wife that can cook and won’t, and a wife that can’t cook and will.

Google News Archive
12 March 1948, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “What am I saying!” by Frank Morgan, pg. 27, col. 5:
Which reminds me that the only thing more exasperating than a wife who CAN cook and WON’T, is a wife who CAN’T cook and WILL!

22 November 1949, State Times (Baton Rouge, LA), pg. 6B, col. 1:
Robert Frost, the American poet, once said “There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t, and that’s the wife who can’t cook and will.”

Google Books
Esar’s Comic Dictionary (Completely rev. and enl. ed.)
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Horizon Press
1951
Pg. 62:
There’s nothing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t, except a wife who can’t cook and will.

Google News Archive
27 December 1951, Prescott (AZ) Evening Courier, ‘Hassaympa Yamps” by the Old Cattleman and His Grapevine Friends, pg. 4, col. 2:
MORE EXASPERATING, AS Frost remarked, than a wife who can cook and won’t is a wife who can’t cook and will.

20 November 1952, Canton (OH) Repository, “Programs on the Air: An Interview with Robert Frost,” pg. 52, cols. 1-2:
Later in the evening. Frost remarked, “There’s one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t, and that’s a wife who can’t cook and will.”

Google Books
Executive’s Treasury of Humor for Every Occasion
By William R. Gerler
West Nyack, NY: Parker Pub. Co.
1965
Pg. 220:
There’s nothing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t, unless it’s a wife who can’t cook and will.

Google Books
Strictly for Laughs
By Joey Adams
New York, NY: A & W Publishers
1981
Pg. 58:
There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t—and that’s a wife who can’t cook and will.

Google Books
Eat These Words:
A Delicious Collection of Fat-Free Food for Thought

By Michael Cader and Debby Roth
New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
1991
Pg. 40:
There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t and that’s a wife who can’t cook and will.
ROBERT FROST

Google Books
Food and Drink:
A Book of Quotations

Edited by Susan L. Rattiner
New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc.
2002
Pg. 50:
There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won’t and that’s a wife who can’t cook and will.
ROBERT FROST

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (1) Comments • Thursday, September 27, 2012 • Permalink


Its funny because those who doesn’t have the gift for cooking likes to cook more than those who has the gift. A very interesting and creative post. Thanks

Posted by moving companies gold coast  on  09/28  at  09:02 AM

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