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 July 22, 2021
“Life is short—eat dessert first!”

“Life is short/uncertain—eat dessert first!” is a jocular saying that has been printed on many images.
“Arthur Murray says he always eats dessert first, ‘because life is so uncertain’” was printed in the Lima (OH) News on July 18, 1962. Arthur Murray (1895-1991) was an American ballroom dancer. The expression became popular in the 1980s. “Sign here says, “Eat dessert first; life is uncertain’” was printed in The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) on July 13, 1983.
“Life Is Uncertain—Eat Dessert First!” is the slogan of the Buttercup Bake Shop (Second Avenue and East 52nd Street). It’s been trademarked from 2000, but an earlier 1993 trademark exists for a Denver, Colorado establishment. The phrase is often associated since 1998 with Ernestine Ulmer, but no citation dates or biographical details are known.
“Life is short—eat dessert first” is a popular variation. “Life is short so let’s eat dessert first” was printed in the Sunday News (Kenosha, WI) on February 3, 1985. “Life is to short, eat dessert first” was printed in the Beaver (UT) Press on May 21, 1987. “Life Is Short, Eat Dessert First!” was posted on the newsgroup alt.support.childfree.moderated on September 22, 2001.
[This entry includes subsequent research by the Quote Investigator.]
Buttercup Bake Shop - About Us
Jennifer Appel began her professional career as a clinical psychologist. Though geared toward academics, the culinary arts were also in her blood. She fondly remembers her mother and grandmothers creating a variety of masterpieces in the family’s kitchen. At the end of a long workday, Jennifer would come home and unwind by cooking, and by baking special desserts. Before long, her hobby became her passion. Intrigued by the food industry, Jennifer decided to switch careers and go full-time into the bakery business. In July 1996, she opened Magnolia Bakery in New York City’s Greenwich Village, where she and her business partner sold cookies, pies, mini- cheesecakes and other delectable treats.

In August 1999, Jennifer ventured out on her own to open Buttercup Bake Shop in midtown Manhattan. Since its opening, the bakery has experienced outstanding success with its line of old fashioned American desserts and inviting ambiance.

Buttercup Bake Shop
Gotham Magazine
“Bad week at the office? Miss your mom? Keep your chin up and pop over to Midtown’s Buttercup Bake Shop for the indulgent, pick-me-up red velvet cake. And the next time the boss man cracks the whip, take a deep breath and repeat the mantra that hangs in Buttercup’s window: ‘Life is uncertain—eat dessert first!’”
18 July 1962, Lima (OH) News, “Limalander on Broadway” by Earl Wilson, pg. 32, col. 3:
Arthur Murray says he always eats dessert first, “because life is so uncertain.”
13 July 1983, The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), “Fancy Food,” pg. D2, col. 3:
Sign here says, “Eat dessert first; life is uncertain”
13 July 1983, Des Moines (IA) Register, “Over the Coffee” by Donald Kaul, pg. 13A, col. 6:
A T-shirt seen at the Fancy Food and Confection Show in Washington last week:
“Eat Dessert First ... Life Is Uncertain.”
3 February 1985, Sunday News (Kenosha, WI), “American palates crave ice cream” by Renee Peck, pg. C8, col. 5:
“Manufacturers are introducing new products at a very rapid rate,” says Martin Freidman, editor of Dancer Fitzgerald Sampler’s New Product News, and whose self-confessed philosophy is, “Life is short so let’s eat dessert first.”
26 March 1986, Los Angeles (CA) Times, metro, section 1, pg. 3:
“Eat dessert first. Life is uncertain,” advises the plaque over the desk of Peggy Ann Baker Muse.
2 December 1986, Los Angeles (CA) Times, metro, section 2, pg. 2:
One of them revealed Lasorda’s favorite motto: “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
21 May 1987, Beaver (UT) Press, “Hattie’s Hints” by Hattie Greenwood, pg. 2, col. 3:
On the way home from Ogden last week-end I spotted a sign that read “Life is to short, eat dessert first.”
22 May 1987, Los Angeles (CA) Times, calendar, section 6, pg. 12:
Lasorda once told a banquet that “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
7 December 1987, Fresno (CA) Bee:
A T-shirt that reads “Life is Uncertain . . . So eat dessert first,” priced at $10.
8 December 1987, Wichita (KS) Eagle, pg. 1C:
WEARING AN apron proclaiming “Eat Dessert First, Life Is Uncertain,” Misty Maynard, who works at Incredible Edibles, explained that many customers come in ...
Google Books
Life is Uncertain—Eat Dessert First!:
Finding the Joy You Deserve

By Sol Gordon and Harold Brecher
Published by Bantam Dell Pub Group
Inspiring stories demonstrate how to make the most of life, move beyond the daily trials of life to find joy, and stop putting off happiness until the “right moment”
Google Groups: alt.religion.kibology
Woman bites on mouse in Mars bar
Michael J. Sacks
Oct 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM
“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”—Ernestine Ulmer
Google Groups: alt.quotations
Newsgroups: alt.quotations
From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Date: 16 Oct 2000 02:17:37 GMT
Local: Sun, Oct 15 2000 8:17 pm
Subject: Who was Ernestine Ulmer? 
A web search finds that the phrase:
Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.
Is frequently attributed to Ernestine Ulmer.  But I can’t find any information about who she is to be remembered/quoted as saying this phrase.  Did she write a cookbook?  Did she run in a frequently quoted circle (ala Dorothy Parker)?  Is she the real author of this phrase, or did someone cite her as the author and then dozens of other pages simply copy this misinformation?  Does anyone have a book where *anyone* (Ms. Ulmer, or anyone else) is cited for this phrase, or the similar “Life is short, eat dessert first” phrase?
Google Groups: alt.support.childfree.moderated
XP: Life Is Short, Eat Dessert First!
Sep 22, 2001, 11:45:24 AM
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: Retail bakery shop featuring premium, fresh baked goods. FIRST USE: 20000215. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20000215
Standard Characters Claimed
Design Search Code
Serial Number 78479410
Filing Date September 7, 2004
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Owner (APPLICANT) Appel, Jennifer C. INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 401 East 34th Street Apartment N-22-A New York NEW YORK 10016
Attorney of Record Evan S. Cowit
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date October 6, 2005

Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 042. US 100. G & S: restaurant services. FIRST USE: 19930614. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19930614
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Design Search Code
Serial Number 74532010
Filing Date June 1, 1994
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition March 7, 1995
Registration Number 1896678
Registration Date May 30, 1995
Owner (REGISTRANT) Pour la France!, Inc. CORPORATION COLORADO 650 South Cherry Street, Suite 1200 Denver COLORADO 80222
Attorney of Record Robert L. Brown
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date June 8, 2002

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, July 22, 2021 • Permalink

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