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 March 25, 2009
“The bread never falls but on its buttered side”

Entry in progress—B.P.
Proverbs: The bread never falls but on its buttered side
A formulation of Murphy’s Law; cf. if anything can go wrong, it will.
His bread never fell on the buttered side.
[1867 A. D. Richardson Beyond Mississippi iii.]
We express the completeness of ill-luck by saying, ‘The bread never falls but on its buttered side.’
[1891 J. L. Kipling Beast & Man x.]
Murphy’s (or Sod’s) Law. ‥Murphy’s many relatives always quote it as ‘Buttered bread falls buttered side down—and if it’s a sandwich it falls open.’
[1980 Guardian 3 Dec. 12]
Related to: luck; misfortune
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Pg. 668:
“I never had a slice of bread,
Particularly large and wide,
That did not fall upon the floor,
And always on the buttered side.”

Huron Reflector [Norwalk, Ohio], 23 Nov. 1841
The Phrase Finder
Why does bread always fall buttered side down?

An expression of a pessimistic view of life.
The Knickerbocker; or, New York Monthly Magazine published this little ditty in 1835:
“I never had a slice of bread,
Particularly large and wide,
That did not fall upon the floor,
And always on the buttered side!”
The idea that bad luck in some way causes bread to fall buttered side down was preceded by the converse, and no less perverse, superstition that bread falling buttered side down causes bad luck. This was recorded in John Timbs’ popular science journal Knowledge for the People, published in Boston, USA, in 1832:
“We may here notice a remarkable Latin superstition, that if a child’s slice of bread and butter be let fall with the buttered side downwards, it is an unlucky omen ; if with the other side, lucky. “

Google Books
The Miseries of Human Life;
Or the Groans of Samuel Sensitive, and Timothy Testy

As overheard by James Beresford, A.M.
Vol. I
The Eighth Edition
London: William Miller
Pg. 199:
37. Letting fall (of course on the buttered side,) the piece of roll, or muffin, on which you had set your heart.
Google BOoks
January 1822, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, pg. 12, col. 2:
When did I ever drop my bread and butter—and it seldom got to my mouth without some such circuit—but it fell on the buttered side?
Google Books
German Romance:
Specimens of its CHief Authors

Vol. I
Edinburgh: William Tait
Pg. 203:
(“The Golden Pot” by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman—ed.)
That in boyhood, at Odds or Evens, I could never once guess the right way; that my bread and butter always fell on the buttered side; of all these sorrows I will not speak; but is it not a frightful destiny, that now, when, in spite of Satan, I have become a student, I must still be a jolthead as before?
Google Books
April 1835, The Knickerbocker, or, New York Monthly Magazine, pg. 347:
He reminds us, as he paints his early days, of that poor wight who spake thus in his juvenile reminisciences:
“I never had a pieces of toast,
Particularly good and wide,
But fell upon the sanded floor,
And always on the buttered side!”
Google Books
Buttered Side Down
Stories by Edna Ferber
Third Edition
New York, NY: Frederick A. Stokes Company
Google Books

Food Superstitions from Aroung the World
By Kathlyn Gay
Illustrated by Debbie Palen
Published by Walker & Co (J)
Google Books
Buttered Side Down:
A Slice of Country Life

By Faith Addis
Published by Ulverscroft
Ask Yahoo!
Tuesday September 14, 1999
Dear Yahoo!:
Why does buttered bread always land butter-side down? And why do cats always land on their feet? What would happen if you buttered the back of a cat and dropped it out of a window?
Chesire, Connecticut

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Wednesday, March 25, 2009 • Permalink

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