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)
“How do you make a hamburger laugh?"/"Pickle it.” (5/27)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/27)
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Entry from August 25, 2015
Sleeve-buttons (fishballs)

ENtry in progress—B.P.

30 December 1873, National Republican (Washington, DC), “The American Restaurant” (Scribner’s Monthly), pg. 1, col. 6:
When in a second-rate restaurant a guest asks for fishballs and hears his order repeated to the cook by the colored waiter as “sleeve-buttons for one!” and hears his neighbor’s order for pork and beans transformed into “stars and stripes,” he begins to wonder, indeed, whether “civilization” is not “a failure,” and whether “the Caucasian” is not “played out.”

8 January 1874, The Evening Star (Washington, DC), pg. 3, col. 7:
Gotham waiters cry “sleeve-buttons for one?"when you order fish balls.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
17 April 1875, The New York Clipper (New York, NY), supplement, pg. 2, col. 7:
There come whispers for a plainer and less expensive fare. “Two Sleeve-buttons,” “Two on Horseback,” “Boston Woodcock,” “Mystery,” “West Broadway,” “Links of the Atlantic Cable,” and the like.

Brooklyn Newsstand
3 July 1887, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, “Restaurant Calls,” pg. 13, col. 1:
“Pair o’ sleeve buttons,” is two fish balls.

3 November 1891, The Evening Repository (Canton, OH), pg. 5, col. 3:
RESTAURANT WAITERS’ SLANG.
(...)
Sleeve buttons is translated into a plate of fish balls.

12 November 1893, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “His Appetite Good: A Tramp Gets Away With Much of Steve Brodie’s Food,” pg. 18, col. 4:
“Now trot out a pair o’ sleeve buttons , (fish balls) and be quick about it,” he said.
(At Steve Brodie’s restaurant on New York’s Bowery.—ed.)

6 October 1895, The Morning Star (Rockford, IL), “Portland (Ore.) Restaurant Talk,” pg. 7, col. 2:
... codfish balls, pair of sleeve buttons; .. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Tuesday, August 25, 2015 • Permalink