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 October 03, 2015
“Every time someone goes into a deli and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies”

Pastrami on rye, with mustard, is a classic New York Jewish deli dish. A popular joke has a non-Jew entering a deli and ordering a pastrami sandwich—on white bread, with mayonnaise.

“He always orders pastrami on white!” was cited in a 1966 newspaper comic strip. The comedy team of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara wrote in Parade magazine in 1968, “Friends of ours have told us that we go together like hot pastrami on white bread.” Woody Allen‘s film Annie Hall (1977) had the titled female character order a pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise, tomatoes and lettuce.

American comedian and actor Milton Berle (1908-2002) has been credited with a classic Jewish deli line since at least 2001:

“Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.”


Wikipedia: Milton Berle
Milton Berle (July 12, 1908 – March 27, 2002) was an American comedian and actor. As the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater (1948–55), he was the first major American television star and was known to millions of viewers as “Uncle Miltie” and “Mr. Television” during TV’s golden age.

1 December 1966, Tyrone (PA) Daily Herald, “Sally’s Sallies” (comic strips), pg. 8, col. 5:
(One waitress shows off a ring to another.—ed.)
“He’s a real gentleman, too. He always orders pastrami on white!”

15 August 1968, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Our Favorite Jokes” by Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Parade magazine, pg. 15, col. 1:
Friends of ours have told us that we go together like hot pastrami on white bread.

24 March 1975, Aberdeen (SD) American News, “No popcorn at Radio City” by Earl Wilson, pg. 4, col. 3:
Rex Harrison’s snack at the Stage Deli: pastrami, on white toast. (No wonder the British lost the Empire.)

Daily Script
ANNIE HALL (1977)
written by
Woody Allen
Marshall Brickman
(...)
INT. DELI-NIGHT
Annie and Alvy sit down in a booth.  The deli is fairly well lit and crowded. Conversation, plates clattering, can be heard over the dialogue.  The waiter comes over to them to take their order.

ALVY
(To the waiter)
I’m gonna have a corned beef.

ANNIE
(To the waiter)
Yeah ... oh, uh, and I’m gonna have a pastrami on white bread with, uh, mayonnaise and tomatoes and lettuce.
(Alvy involuntarily makes a face as the waiter leaves)

Google Books
Cue: The Weekly Magazine of New York Life
1979
Pg. 44:
A “Chuck Scarborough” is a pastrami on white bread. With mayo. And lettuce.

New York (NY) Times
Pastrami on Rye, Hold the West Coast
By DAVID MARGOLICK,
Published: November 16, 1994
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Nov. 13— Seeking the solace of salami and the balm of brisket amid the aftershocks of the 1993 earthquake, a long line of people gathered outside Nate ‘n Al’s, the venerable show-biz delicatessen here.
(...)
Other Davis pals, like Tommy LaSorda and Liz Smith were immortalized free. So was Mia Farrow, who lent her name to the bizarre combination of pastrami on white with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

Google Groups: alt.humor.jewish
Bits and Pieces
alohacyberian
11/1/01
(...)
“Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies. “—
~ Milton Berle

Google Books
The Golden Age of Tongue Kissing:
Brooklyn 23, NY

By Stan Pollack
Xlibris Corporation (Xlibris.com)
2002
Pg. 78:
Anytime a person orders pastrami on white bread, somewhere in the world a Jew dies!
Buddy Hackett comedian
Born Brooklyn, NY 1924

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips and One-liners:
Over 8,000 Gems of Wit and Wisdom, One-liners and Wisecracks

By Geoff Tibballs
New York, NY: Carroll & Graff
2004
Pg. ?:
Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.
MILTON BERLE

Google Books
Pastrami on Rye:
An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli

By Ted Merwin
New York, NY: New York University Press
2015
Pg. 149:
Jewish delis often served as backdrops for relations between Jewish men and their non-Jewish girlfriends, as in Annie Hall, when the main character, Alvy Singer, takes his tall, midwestern girlfriend to the Carnegie Deli as a prelude to their having sex for the first time; she mistakenly orders a pastrami sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise (echoing a scene in the Broadway musical Skyscraper in which Julie Harris commits a similar faux pas in the Gaiety Delicatessen), and he grimaces, as if remembering Milton Berle’s classic joke that “every time someone goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread with mayo, somewhere a Jew dies.”

Twitter
Jewish Comedians
‏@JewishComedians
Milton Berle: Anytime a person goes to a delicatessen & orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.
11:53 PM - 3 Oct 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Saturday, October 03, 2015 • Permalink