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 December 25, 2004
Sprinkles (Jimmies)
New York is a "sprinkle" town. If you call them "jimmies," you're probably the type of person who roots for the Boston Red Sox.

I found the earliest citation for "jimmies" (1940s), but I'm hoping to do better when ProQuest finishes digitizijng the Boston Globe.

"Sprinkles" can be black or multi-colored. They're usually put on ice cream cones. Some Europeans call them "hundreds and thousands" or even "mice."


Wikipedia: Sprinkles
Sprinkles (sometimes known as "jimmies" or "hundreds-and-thousands"; see below) are very small pieces of confectionery used as a decoration or to add texture to desserts – typically cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, and some puddings. The candies, which are produced in a variety of colors, are usually too small to be eaten individually and are in any case not intended to be eaten by themselves, being nearly flavorless. In the Netherlands, chocolate sprinkles, or "hagelslag," are used as a sandwich topping for sandwiches with sweet contents; this is also common in Belgium and Indonesia, once a colony of the Netherlands.

Sprinkles can be most commonly found on cupcakes, being that cupcakes generally have more frosting and less diameter than cakes. However, all sprinkles generally require frosting for which to stick onto.

Dutch hagelslag was first invented in 1936 by Gerard de Vries for Venz, a Dutch company made popular by said treat. Several letters to Venz from a five-year-old boy, H. Bakker, asking for a chocolate bread topping, inspired and prompted de Vries's development of sprinkles.[citation needed] After much research and venture, de Vries and Venz created the first machine to produce the tiny cylindrical treats. They were named "Hagelslag" after their resemblance to a weather phenomenon prominent in the Netherlands, hail.

Popular terminology tends to overlap, while manufacturers are more precise with their labeling. What consumers call sprinkles covers several types of candy decorations which are sprinkled informally over a surface rather than placed in specific spots. Sanding sugar; crystal sugar; nonpareils; silver, gold, and pearl dragées — not to be confused with pearl sugar (which is also sprinkled on baked goods); and hundreds-and-thousands are all used this way, along with a newer product called "sugar shapes" or "sequins". These latter come in a variety of shapes for holidays or themes, such as Halloween witches and pumpkins, or flowers and dinosaurs.
(...)
The Brigham's Ice Cream Company claims that "Jimmies were first developed by Just Born Candy Company, which was founded by Samuel Born, who immigrated to the US from Russia around 1910 ... Born ... decid[ed] to accredit the name to the producer, Jimmy Bartholomew. The new product was named JIMMIES, which is still a trademarked name ...."

Boston Online - Glossary
Wicked Good Guides / Boston English /
Jimmies
Those little chocolate thingees you ask the guy at the ice-cream store to put on top of your cone. The multi-colored ones are "sprinkles."

Philly.com
Here is some history:

Back in the 1930s, the Just Born candy company of Bethlehem produced a topping called chocolate grains. The man who ran the machine that made these chocolate grains was named Jimmy Bartholomew.

"Thus, his product became known as jimmies," said Ross Born, the chief executive officer. He was told this story by his grandfather and company founder, Sam Born. Just Born registered jimmies as its trademark, and continued producing jimmies until the mid-1960s - which is why the name was so popular here.

The trademark expired and soon after, Just Born stopped making jimmies.

This account, however, has been disputed.

The Boston Globe investigated the origin of jimmies last winter after a reader inquired about a rumor that the term originally was racist - the idea being that some people refer only to chocolate ones as jimmies, and rainbow ones as sprinkles. Perhaps, the reader surmised, the word descended from Jim Crow.

The Globe found no evidence of this, but did cite a commentary in 1986 on National Public Radio by the late Boston poet John Ciardi, who claimed: "From the time I was able to run to the local ice cream store clutching my first nickel, which must have been around 1922, no ice cream cone was worth having unless it was liberally sprinkled with jimmies."

Ciardi, the Globe said, "dismissed Just Born as claim-jumpers looking to trademark someone else's sweet inspiration." His jimmies had come first.

The truth may never be known.

(Dictionary of American Regional English, vol. III, I-O)
jimmies n. pl. [Trademark] esp NEast Cf. ant n sprinkles
Tiny balls or rod-shaped bits of candy used as a topping for ice cream, cakes, and other sweets.
1963 Sat. Review 13 April 51/1 newMA (as of 1941), We could buy a generous ice cream cone, dipped in chocolate "jimmies," as we called them.
1967 Harvard Alumni Bulletin 22 Apr (W3 File), Why is it traditional to order your Harvard Square cone with jimmies, so that Brigham's goes through 25-40 pounds of them on a normally brisk day? Why are jimmies called jimmies?

30 September 1921, Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern, pg. 12, col. 4 ad:
Palm Beach
Layer Chocolate Sprinkles,
Layer Orange Ice,
Layer Vanilla Cream
(Carver Ice Cream Co. -- ed.)

8 December 1922, Bridgeport (CT) Telegram, pg. 3, col. 4 ad:
Something New!!
Chocolate Sprinkles
10c pkg.

Made by
Stollwerck Chocolate Co.
This is decidedly something new and you will certainly like it. It is fine for
Cakes, Puddings, Sauces and Candies

22 April 1949, Nashua (NH) Telegraph, pg. 18, col. 8:
TONIGHT at Colburn's!
Banana Split 30c
Cones with Jimmies 10s-15c
Banana Ice Cream
Date Nut, Maple Nut, Frozen
Pudding, Popsicles and
Teddy Bears.
Homemade Style Candies.
Colburn's, 7 Main St. Advt.

3 November 1952, Sheboygan (WI) Journal, pg. 19 ad:
CHOCOLATE JIMMIES OR
Chocolate Bits
(For Cake and Cookie Decorating)
lb. 49c
(Krambo Food Stores -- ed.)

22 October 1953, Lowell (MA) Sun, pg. 21, col. 4 ad:
Cookie assortment averaging over 128 various shaped cookies to the lb., all midly spiced and sprinkled with chocolate jimmies.

5 August 1954, Bridgeport (CT) Telegram, pg.24, col.
2:
SLOPPY BUT FUN
(Boston Herald)
The ice cream cone is 50 years old, but it will never be middle-aged.

Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, maple walnut, pistachio, lemon sherbet, fudge whirl or cherry ripple, it will make anyone feels a little giddy and a lot younger. Jimmies or not, its magic stays the same.

19 January 1956, Portsmouth (NH) Herald, pg. 14, col. 5:
Frost sides with chocolate "jimmies" or crushed cookies.
(Hood Ice Cream -- ed.)

8 December 1966, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, pg. A3:
ICE CREAM CONE TREES
(...)
Trim the trees with cinnamon red hots, silver dragees, colored sprinkles, chocolate jimmies, popcorn or the decoration of your choice.

15 March 1967, New York (NY) Times, pg. 42:
At a His-and-Hers Barbershop: Ice Cream and Sprinkles

(Trademark)
Word Mark "JUST BORN"
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: Candies and Chocolates. FIRST USE: 19181100. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19181100
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 02.05.06 - Baby; Children, baby or babies
17.05.01 - Bathroom articles, scales; Scales, bathroom; Scales, doctors
Serial Number 71190166
Filing Date December 27, 1923
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0184647
Registration Date May 27, 1924
Owner (REGISTRANT) Just Born, Inc. CORPORATION NEW YORK #8 EAST 12TH STREET NEW YORK NEW YORK
(LAST LISTED OWNER) Just Born, Inc. CORPORATION PENNSYLVANIA 1300 STEFKO BLVD. BETHLEHEM PENNSYLVANIA 180176672
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record SANFORD J. PILTCH
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 12C. SECTION 8(10-YR) 20040909.
Renewal 3RD RENEWAL 20040909
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Saturday, December 25, 2004 • Permalink