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
“Two choices: take it or leave it” (food menu joke)

"Today’s Menu: Take it or Leave it” is a humorous saying that has been printed on many gift items, such as wall plaques and posters. The joke dates to at least 1944, when “take it or leave it” was said to be the menu choice offered in the U.S. military during World War II. 

The joke was popularized by New York City-born humorist Sam Levenson (1911-1980), who wrote in his book, Everything But Money (1966), about the humble household of his youth:

“Our menu at mealtime offered two choices — take it or leave it — an approach that seemed to stimulate our appetites.”

The joke has usually been credited (since the 1980s) to Brooklyn-born comedian Buddy Hackett (1924-2003), but there’s no evidence that Hackett used the joke before Levenson.


Wikipedia: Sam Levenson
Sam Levenson (December 28, 1911 – August 27, 1980) was an American humorist, writer, teacher, television host and journalist.

29 November 1944, Greensboro (NC) Record, “Current Comment,” pg. 6, col. 7:
Take It Or Leave It.
A Hollywood epicure accustomed to eating at only the best places sat down to his first meal at Uncle Sam’s expense. Surveying the stew disdainfully, he asked the sailor next to him: ‘Do you get any choice around here?”

“Sure,” beamed his companion; “you get two choices. You can take it—or leave it.”—U.S. Coast Guard Magazine.

Google Books
Everything But Money
By Sam Levenson
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1966
Pg. 14:
Our menu at mealtime offered two choices — take it or leave it — an approach that seemed to stimulate our appetites.

9 September 1966, The Post-Register (Idaho Falls, ID), Earl Wilson entertainment column, pg. 9, col. 5:
Sam Levenson notes in his book, “Everything But Money,” that as a child his family’s mealtime menu offered two choices—“Take it or leave it.”

Google Books
You Can Say That Again, Sam!:
The Choice Wit and Wisdom of Sam Levenson

By Sam Levenson
Boston, MA: G. K. Hall
1979
Pg. 43:
The menu at mealtime offers two choices: take it or leave it.

Google News Archive
12 February 1974, Reading (PA) Eagle, “Questions Old and New,” pg. 5, col. 5:
When I was a kid my mother always offered me two choices for supper: Take it or leave it. Sam Levenson.

Google Books
The Reader’s Digest
Volume 120
1982
Pg. 74:
In Sam’s family, there was cleanliness even in tatters, and respect for parents and authority. Mama would provide a meal menu with two choices: “Take it or leave it.”

Google Books
Time Out:
How to Win in Retirement or the Second Career

By Ronald B. Garrison
Bountiful, UT: Garrison & Associates; Coeur D’Alene, ID: T. Swanson
1988
Pg. 48:
As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. -Buddy Hackett

Google Books
Food and Drink:
A Book of Quotations

Edited by Susan L. Rattiner
Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.
2002
Pg. 27:
As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.
BUDDY HACKETT

Google Books
The Greatest Quotations of All-Time
By Anthony St Peter
Xlibris Corporation (Xlibris.com)
2010
Pg. 252:
As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. Buddy Hackett

TimesReporter.com (Dover-New Philadelphia, OH)
Updated Jan 30, 2012 @ 10:40 AM
More and less: The new school lunch
By Barbara Burns
(...)
As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.
~ Buddy Hackett

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


I love you site. Its really funny and creative. I’m really happy that I was able to see this.

Posted by moving companies gold coast  on  09/27  at  09:30 AM

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