What’s worse than finding a worm in an apple that you’re eating? Finding half a worm! (Meaning that one has eaten the other half.)
This popular joke appears to have started in 1911. The joke still is included in many joke books and collections today.
“What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?"/"The Holocaust” is a popular anti-joke version.
24 August 1911, Cambridge City (IN) Tribune, pg. 3, col. 3:
Amid the plentitude of apples this fall, what is more horrifying than to bite in a fine specimen and find a worm? A half worm, of course.
21 November 1911, Kansas City (MO) Star, “Kansas Notes,” pg. 10:
“We have always contended,” the Moundridge Journal says, “that the only sensation worse than biting into an apple and seeing a worm is biting into an apple and seeing only half a worm.”
24 November 1911, Moberly (MO) Weekly Monitor, pg. 4, col. 1:
Ever Experienced It.
An exchange remarks that it is with a peculiar feeling that one bites into an apple and finds a worm, but that the feeling becomes more peculiar if after biting into the apple only half a worm is found.
12 December 1911, Duluth (MN) News-Tribune, pg. 7:
From the Boston Transcript:
Maud (throwing down apple)—“Ugh! Doesn’t it make you sick to find a worm in something you are eating?”
Jack—“No; only when I find half a worm.”
1 March 1912, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Evening Gazette, “The Children’s Page,” pg. 10, col. 2:
Fink—What is worse than biting into an apple and seeing a worm?
Gink—Biting into an apple and seeing half a worm.
Instructions in the Grades
Values and Methods
By Oscar Gerson
New York, NY: Hinds, Noble & Eldredge
Let me illustrate with the old conundrum, “What is worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm?” Answer, “Finding half a worm.”
8 January 1918, Idaho Statesman, pg. 8:
“Daddy,” said the small son, who was eating an apple, “what would be worse than finding a worm in this apple?”
“I do not know, unless it would be to find two worms.”
“No,” said Bobby. “It would be worse to find half a worm.”
The Century: a popular quarterly
By Making of America Project
Published by Scribner & Co., 1923
Item notes: v. 106
A MAN said to a friend, “Can you imagine anything worse than to bite into a beautiful red apple and to find a big green worm in it?”
“Yes,” answered the friend, “to bite into a beautiful red apple and to find half a worm.”
Google News Archive
26 November 1954, Holmes County Herald (Lexington, MS), pg. 2, col. 4:
Misery is when you bite into an apple and find half a worm
Trouble on Treat Street
By Anne Alexander
Illustrated by John Ralph Jones
New York, NY: Atheneum
You know what’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Half a worm.