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.

Recent entries:
“if every day is a gift then today was socks” (5/27)
“Kill them with success and bury them with a smile” (5/27)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/27)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/27)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/27)
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Entry from December 22, 2010
Nothing Burger (Nothingburger)

A “nothing burger” (or “nothingburger") is a person who is a non-entity, or an idea that is without merit, or anything that’s a lot of nothing. A “nothing burger” is a burger (such as a hamburger) without the burger.

Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons (1881-1972) used “nothing burger” in newspaper columns in 1953 and 1956. Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown used “nothing-burger” in books in the 1960s and 1970s.

Anne Burford, who resigned under pressure as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, popularized “nothingburger” in 1984. President Ronald Reagan had appointed her to a panel that she called “a nothing-burger, a joke.” The term “nothingburger” has been popular in politics, used to represent the results of unsuccessful lobbying of government.


Urban Dictionary
nothingburger
something lame, dead-end, a dud, insignificant; especially something with high expectations that turns out to be average, pathetic, or overhyped.
“much to the team’s dismay, the number one pick in this year’s draft turned out to be a nothingburger”
by Nutmegs Jun 10, 2006

Urban Dictionary
nothing burger
Two pieces of bread slapped together with nothing in between. Usually eaten when you have nothing in the house except bread or are too lazy to spend 2 minutes making a decent sandwich.
Rob: My breakfast is usually just a nothing burger and a cup of coffee
Ann: Wtf you’re so lazy, did you ever try eating decent food?

by Vasily Favoroff Jul 10, 2008

Wikipedia: Louella Parsons
Louella Parsons (August 6, 1881 – December 9, 1972) was an American gossip columnist who, for many years, was an influential arbiter of Hollywood mores, often feared and hated by the individuals, mostly actors, whose careers she could negatively impact via her radio show and newspaper columns.

1 June 1953, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, “Louella’a Move-Go’Round” by Louella O. Parsons, pg. 5, col. 1:
After all, if it hadn’t been for Sam Goldwyn Farley might very well be a nothingburger.

5 July 1956, Corsicana (TX) Daily Sun, “Hollywood” by Louella O. Parsons, Pg. 9, col. 4:
“You certainly do,” I told Miss Winters, who was Miss Nothingburger when Ronald Colman gave her a chance in “A Double Life.”

Google Books
Sex and the Office
By Helen Gurley Brown
New York, NY: Pocket Books
1965, ©1964
Pg. 28:
Wearing one great pin four days in a row is better than changing to nothing-burger clinkers.

Google Books
Sex and the New Single Girl
By Helen Gurley Brown
New York, NY: B. Geis Associates; distributed by the World Pub. Co. Cleveland, OH
1970
Pg. 186:
Well, I think better a splendid fake than those little-bitty, itsy-poo nothing burger gold dinkies you wear only because they’re real.

Google Books
Hedda and Louella
By George Eells
London: W.H. Allen
1972
Pg. ?:
Louella replied that she certainly hoped so. “Because you were ‘Miss Nothingburger’ before...”

Google Books
Humans Developing:
A lifespan perspective

By Robert Kastenbaum
Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon
1979
Pg. 503:
“What do you want, cheeseburger or hamburger?”
“Nothing.”
“One nothing-burger coming up!”

Google Books
Farewell Performance
By Ernest Lehman
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1982
Pg. 144:
“I never should have let Blanche bring that nothingburger here.”

Google Books
Having It All:
Love, success, sex, money, even if you’re starting with nothing

By Helen Gurley Brown
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1982
Pg. 232:
Sex is so intimate, orgasm so cataclysmic, it’s easy to understand why the man in your bed seems so important, but are you being daffy about a nothingburger?

Google News Archive
27 July 1984, Gadsden (AL) Times, pg. A5, col. 5:
Burford calls job
“nothing burger”

VAIL, Colo. (AP)—Anne Gorsuch Burford, who resigned under fire as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, says the panel to which President Reagan has appointed her is “a nothing-burger, a joke.”

New York (NY) Times
ON LANGUAGE; BURGER ME NO BURGERS
By Sherwin D. Smith (The New York Times); Magazine Desk
August 19, 1984, Sunday
Late City Final Edition, Section 6, Page 14, Column 3, 1546 words
‘’It’s a nothingburger,’’ Anne McGill Burford, late of the Environmental Protection Agency, said of the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere shortly before withdrawing from her appointment as its chairman. She may have been remembering Walter Mondale’s success with the Burger King tag line - ‘’Where’s the beef?’’ - in his primary struggles with Senator Gary Hart. But the effect was quite the opposite.

New York (NY) Times
CONFRONTATION IN THE GULF; Bush Says Iraqi Aggression Threatens ‘Our Way of Life’
By R W. APPLE Jr., Special to The New York Times
Published: August 16, 1990
WASHINGTON, Aug. 15— President Bush told Pentagon employees today that American freedom and ‘’our way of life’’ would suffer if President Saddam Hussein of Iraq ever gained control of Saudi Arabia.
(...)
Another official said of King Hussein’s peace mission: ‘’There are a lot of overbuilt expectations. I think that this is a nothing-burger.’’

New York (NY) Times
Abortion-Rights Supporters Are Split on U.S. Measure
By ADAM CLYMER,
Published: April 2, 1993
WASHINGTON, April 1— Supporters of abortion rights are fighting among themselves over what a proposed Freedom of Choice Act should include, dimming the legislation’s already difficult prospects.
(...)
This week Ms. Schroeder explained her opposition to the provision by contending its language encouraged states to adopt parental consent laws. Mr. Hyde said it was too weak and vague, “a real nothing-burger.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 22, 2010 • Permalink