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 you have ever eaten chocolate money, you have bit coins” (10/18)
“A quesadilla is essentially a grilled cheese sandwich” (10/18)
“Why did the Jewish man walk into a stop sign?"/"He wasn’t an observant Jew.” (10/18)
“Speed bumps are just expensive inverted potholes” (10/18)
“If you have ever eaten chocolate money, you have bit coins” (10/18)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Entry from August 25, 2012
“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is a popular American poem verse from the 1830s. The verse has many joke endings that replace “try, try again.”

“If at first you dont succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried” is a jocular anti-proverb that has been cited in print since at least 1987. This variation possibly first appeared in Newsweek magazine in January or February 1984; Newt Heilscher was given credit for the saying in 1992.

American film comedian W. C. Fields (1880-1946) is attributed with this take on the saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Then quit. There’s no use being a damn fool about it.” Other variations include “If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success,” “If at first you don’t succeed, you’re running about average,” “If at first you don’t succeed, try management,” “If at first you don’t succeed, try left field,” “If at first you don’t succeed, try two more times so your failure is statistically significant,” “If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving isn’t for you,” “If at first you don’t succeed, we have a lot in common” and “Cooking Rule: If at first you don’t succeed, order pizza.”


The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred. R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2006
Pg. 578:
Thomas H.Palmer
U.S. author, 1782-1861
“‘Tis a lesson you should heed,
Try, try again;
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again.”

Quoted in The Village Reader (1840). The identical words, except with “try, try again,” appear in a poem titled “Perseverance; or, Try Again,” printed in Common School Assistant, Aug. 1838. No author is identified.

Google Books
The New Season:
A spectator’s guide to the 1988 election

By George F. Will
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1987
Pg. 74:
But I never subscribed to the axiom “If at first you don’t succeed, destroy the evidence that you tried.”

1 July 1988, Today (Duncanville, TX), “Towne Tidbits” by Marjorie Morningstar, pg. 11, col. 5:
“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”

7 August 1989, Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Maternity BDUS?” by Larry Cheek:
They’ve been there since 1982 but they are still universal in their truth: “If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you ever tried.”

14 February 1990, Palm Beach (FL) Post, “‘Cutesy’ quotes tee off jealous golfing partner” by Ron Wiggins, pg. 1D:
“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”

Google Books
And I Quote:
The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker

By Ashton Applewhite, William R. Evans III and Andrew Frothingham
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
1992
Pg. 55:
If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried. — Newt Heilscher (Probably Newt Hielscher—ed.)

Google Books
Developing the Leader Within You
By John Maxwell
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson
1993
Pg. 151:
4. CONTINUAL LOSERS.
Many people look at their past failures and fear the risk of pursuing a vision. Their motto is, “If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you’ve tried.” They also destroy everyone’s attempt to ever try again.

29 December 1999, Rockford (IL) Register Star, pg. 9C, col. 8:
Yesterday’s Cryptoquote: IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, DESTROY ALL EVIDENCE THAT YOU TRIED.—AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Google Books
Murphy’s Laws:
26th Anniversary Edition

By Arthur Bloch
New York, NY: The Berkley Publishing Group
2003
Pg. 6:
Fahnstock’s Rule for Failure
If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

Google Books
Words of Wisdom from the Greatest Minds of All Time
By Mick Farren
London: Chrysalis
2004
Pg. 63:
If at first you don’t succeed, remove all evidence that you tried.
David Brent

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, August 25, 2012 • Permalink