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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 02, 2009
“Second Prize: Two weeks in Philadelphia/ Chicago/ Los Angeles/ Texas” (joke)

The old quiz show joke goes that first prize is one week in Philadelphia and second prize is TWO weeks in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia joke version has been the most popular and appears in print in October 1957, described then as a “current” joke about Philadelphia.
“Second prize was two weeks in Dallas” was spoken by a Fort Worth citizen in March 1955. “Second prize two weeks in Texas” is cited from February 1959. The Dallas and Texas versions appear to have been popular in the 1950s (when the joke was, perhaps, first told), but are seldom used today.
Los Angeles is mentioned in October 1955 and Chicago is the city in a May 1957 version.
5 March 1955, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Former Commando Praises Teachers,” pt. 1, pg. 3:
Miss Harriet Griffin of Fort Worth, president of the North Texas district of Texas State Teachers Association, got the district’s eighteenth annual convention off to a good start at North Dallas High Friday night with this story:
“Over in Fort Worth, we had a contest recently. First prize was one week in Dallas with all expenses paid. Second prize was two weeks in Dallas.”
21 October 1955, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Ham on Ryon” by Art Ryon, pg. A5:
Second prize: Two weeks in Los Angeles.
22 May 1957, Lebanon (PA) Daily News, “Casual Jokes Thrust Upon Us By Friends (?)” by Doc Quigg, pg. 3, col. 1:
And then there’s the one about the television quiz program which as its grand awards offered the following: First prize, a week in Chicago; second prize, two weeks in Chicago.
That’s the end of the joke. Chicago is used here only because it’s a big, strong city with a hide tough enough to take some kidding. The story can be used to deflate any city of your choice. It’s especially recommended for partisan in St. Paul, Ft. Worth, and San Francisco for use against you-know-which target.
2 August 1957, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “Home Town” by George Ross, pg. 3, col. 5:
You’ve heard it, I’m sure, the gag going around about the quiz show which gives as first prize a week in Texas. Second prize is two weeks in Texas.
October 1957, Playboy magazine, “Playboy After Hours,” pg. 9, col. 1:
We’d thought the gag potential of Philadelphia as a dull town had been exhausted, but a whole slew of newies about the yawn qualities of the City of Brotherly Love has sprung up. Take, for example, the current yok that goes like so: big contest sponsored by a giant soap company in which the first prize is a one-week, all-expense vacation in Philadelphia: second prize—a two-week, all-expense vacation in Philadelphia. Or this one: man goes to see his doctor, is informed he only has four months to live.  He is told that he can do anything he watns during those four months—smoke, drink, hire a concubine, race D-Jags—anything. But in four months he’ll be dead. The man asks the doctor, “Is it OK if I go live in Philadelphia my last four months on this earth?” “Sure,” answers the medico, “but why would you want to do a thing like that?” The guy says: “Well, it would seem so much longer that way.”
Google Books
Official Proceedings
By National Ice Association. Convention
There is one thing we are not able to understand. There is a story going around that maybe you have heard about a national contest in which the first prize was an all-expense-paid week’s vacation in Dallas. This was very well and we agree with it, but we don’t understand the fact that the second prize was two weeks in Dallas. (Laughter)
3 February 1959, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Bexar Facts” by Morris Willson, pg. 15, col. 7:
Thanx to Tom Portwood for the story about the national contest which offered as a first prize an expense-paid week’s vacation in Texas—and as second prize two weeks in Texas.
13 June 1959, Albuquerque (NM) Tribune, pg. A2, col. 1:
“Did you hear about the new quiz contest?” Hope asked the movie actress. “First prize is a week in Bernalillo, and second prize is two weeks in Bernalillio.”
19 June 1959, Lima (OH) News, “Our City” by Max B. Martin, pg. 11, col. 1:
Folks who make jokes about Texas have almost disappeared since Alaska came into the union, but we got to thinking about the jokes when this contest came around, and the best one we recall is one that listed contest prizes.
“First prize is a week’s vacation in Texas, second prize is TWO WEEKS vacation in Texas.”
4 October 1959, Bridgeport (CT) Post, “Jokes No Longer Safe: Philadelphia Fires Back At Gagsters” by Hugh A, Mulligan, pg. B5, col. 5:
Carter (Comedian Jack Carter—ed.) was shot down for reviving the old saw about a quiz contest offering a first prize of one week in Philadelphia and a second prize of two weeks in Philadelphia.
29 January 1962, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “2nd Place Is Oblivion” by Jim Murray, pg. 30, col. 1:
Want to Try for Second Prize?
First prize is a pair of tickets to the next major league game at the Coliseum or a win ticket on the bull at the next corrida. Second prize is two weeks in Philadelphia. Third prize is Philadelphia.
1 December 1967, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, sec. AA, pg. 13:
Bill Moyers had fun addressing the Foreign Press Ass’n. He suggested new door prizes: “First prize, one week on the White House staff. Second prize, two weeks on the White House staff.”
12 January 1987, European Stars and Stripes, pg. 12, col. 2:
Brevity proved to be the soul of wit when Roy Harpham of Holstein, Neb., won the Great Plains Liars Open in Omaha, with this fish story: “I once met an honest fihserman.”
Harpham’s prize is “a week in Texas—room, board and bait, all at his own expense,” Welsch said.
Second prize is two weeks in Texas at the winner’s expense and third is a “facsimile of Richard Nixon’s autograph.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Sunday, August 02, 2009 • Permalink

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