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by Abigail Van Buren

Origin of 'The Big Apple' Is Topic for Juicy Debate

DEAR ABBY: My aunt recently went to New York City and brought back a T-shirt for her 3-year-old grandson. She told him about the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, and she also told him that New York City is called "the Big Apple." He asked why. She said she didn't know and tried looking it up, but she couldn't find the answer. She even asked professors and college students, to no avail.

Abby, can you help? -- HER NIECE IN GLENDALE, ARIZ.

DEAR NIECE: I put that question to my readers in 1988. Here's a sample of the responses I received:

DEAR ABBY: The Bible tells us that the apple was forbidden fruit. (Remember, the serpent in the Garden of Eden dared Eve to eat the apple.) Well, from that time on, the apple signified temptation. And since New York City is the most tempting city in the world, the traveling men named New York City "the Big Apple." -- NORMAN IN NEWARK

DEAR ABBY: I once read a story written by a man who traveled with a circus. He said, "New York was the choice spot, 'the big one,' or 'the big apple,' and that is how New York City came to be known as the Big Apple." -- CORNELL THOMPSON, HOUSTON

DEAR ABBY: I saw a letter in your column asking why New York City is known as the Big Apple.

Back in the 1920s and '30s, people in the entertainment world, particularly jazz musicians, talked about making it to the top. To "play" New York City was to make the big time or the "big apple," which was the jazz term.

Today, New York City remains the No. 1 visitor destination in the world, thanks to both the New York City Convention and Visitors' Bureau's efforts and the state's own "I Love New York" statewide tourism campaign. Last year, we welcomed 17.8 million visitors to The Big Apple -- over 3 million were from overseas.

So, we welcome the world -- and especially you and your readers. Come and enjoy all of New York State's beauty, history, culture and unlimited recreation, from Buffalo to the Big Apple! -- MARIO CUOMO, GOVERNOR

DEAR ABBY: "The Big Apple" was the name of a song that inspired a dance wherein a small group made a circle, held hands and danced to a lively beat. A gossip columnist named Walter Winchell made it popular in 1930. It took New York by storm -- that is why they call New York City "the Big Apple." -- A. NOLAN, ATLANTA

DEAR ABBY: New York City was named the Big Apple because during the Depression of 1929-30, all the banks closed and many people were suddenly unemployed, so they stood on the street corners and sold apples for a nickel apiece.

There were so many apple stands in New York City, they called it the Big Apple. -- MRS. LEONARD COOKSON, PARADISE VALLEY, ARIZ.

DEAR ABBY: As a former resident of New York, I believe it came to be known as the Big Apple because New York grows the most varied apples of any state in the union. For example: Delicious, Rome, MacIntosh, Baldwins, Golden Delicious, Spy Greivies, Jonathon, etc. Hence the name the Big Apple. -- N. WHITMAN, LAUDERDALE LAKES, FLA.

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