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 March 21, 2016
“Why are most New York Italians called Tony?” (joke)

Many Italian men are named “Tony.” There’s a politically incorrect joke:

Q: Why are most Italian men called “Tony”?
A: Because they were sent to Ellis Island with “To N.Y.” written on their foreheads!


The joke has been cited in print since at least 1985.


Google Groups: net.jokes
ITALIAN JOKE
d...@whuxi.uucp
3/21/85
Q:  Why are all short Italians named Tony ?

A:  Cause’ they shove them in the boat and stamp “TO NY” on their foreheads.

Google Books
Outrageously Offensive Jokes IV
By Maude Thickett
New York, NY: Pocket Books
1987
Pg. 71:
Why are most Italians called “Tony”? Because when they got to Ellis Island they stamped “TO N.Y.” on their foreheads.

Google Groups: rec.humor
international jokes
STAVROS TSOKOS
3/8/92
(...)
Why are most Italians called “Tony”?

BECAUSE WHEN THEY GOT TO ELLIS ISLAND THEY STAMPED “TO N.Y.” ON THEIR FOREHEADS!

Google Groups: soc.culture.china
Insensitive mainland chauvinist view. (Was: Who Cares 150 F-16s.)
Li
9/11/92
(...)
- Why are so many Italians guys called Tony?
- Because when they first came to this country they didn’t know the way, so What they did was they cut their hair off and printed on the forehead “TO NY” (To New York!).

Google Books
The Gilded Age, or, The Hazard of New Functions
By Mark W. Summers
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall
1997
Pg. 115:
One joke explained why all Italians were called Tony: because when they got to this country, their caps always had a card in them to guide them to their destination, labeled “To NY.”

Google Books
Manila (Man in Los Angeles)
By Gracianus R. Reyes
Quezon City: Giraffe Books
1998
Pg. 71:
If the Italians were on board a ship bound for New York, their foreheads were marked with TONY—an acronym for To New York. And so in the U.S. the Italian migrants who were marked thus retained the name.

Google Groups: alt.tasteless.jokes
hey i wannna hear some italian jokes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
flashman
2/2/98
Why are so many italians named Tony??
Because when they were coming over in steerage on the transatlantic steamers earlier in the century the had To N.Y. stamped on their foreheads.

Google Books
Get ‘Em Laughing:
Public Speaking Humor, Quotes and Illustrations

By E. Gene Davis
Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing
2007
Pg. 350:
Why are most Italian men in the U. S. named Tony? When the men got on the ships to America, they stamped, “To NY” on their foreheads.

Twitter
max abbruzzetti
‏@linimax
why are so many Italians called Tony. Cousin says (he should know he’s a wop) back in the day, they used to stamp to NY on their foreheads
2:11 PM - 31 Aug 2009

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of Jokes 2
By Geoff Tibballs
London: Constable & Robinson Ltd
2012
Pg. ?:
Why are most New York Italians called Tony? Because on the boat over to America, they wore a sticker that said: “TO NY”.

Twitter
Micky Regis
‏@Garykinda
@Scaramucci You know why so many Italians are called Tony when they came over on the boat they had TO-NY STAMPED ON THERE FOREHEAD
1:12 PM - 24 Sep 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Monday, March 21, 2016 • Permalink