Tag Archives: Suzanne Ridgeway

Nobody Goes There Anymore, It’s Too Crowded

Yogi Berra? Rags Ragland? Suzanne Ridgeway? John McNulty? Ukie Sherin? Anonymous?

party07Dear Quote Investigator: An amusing anecdote states that baseball great Yogi Berra was once asked whether he wished to have dinner at a highly-regarded restaurant, and he replied with a remark combining wisdom with contradiction:

Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

Is this an authentic Yogiism?

Quote Investigator: Berra has stated on multiple occasions that he did make this remark, and detailed citations for this claim are given further below.

Yet, this joke has a long history, and it was already circulating before Berra was born. A thematic precursor about parties was published in 1882 in a London periodical called “The Nonconformist and Independent”. The comedy hinged on the impossibility of all the guests delaying attendance until all the other guests had already arrived: 1

“I’m afraid you’ll be late at the party,” said an old lady to her stylish granddaughter, who replied, ” Oh, you dear grandma, don’t you know that in our fashionable set nobody ever goes to a party till everybody gets there?”

The earliest strong match known to QI was published in December 1907 in a New York newspaper humor column called “Sparklets”. The creator of the joke was unidentified, and the person delivering the punchline was also not named. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Ambiguous, Yet Clear—Oh, don’t go there on Saturday; it’s so frightfully crowded! Nobody goes there then!”

In the ensuing days, months, and years the jest was reprinted with minor alterations in other papers such as “The Philadelphia Inquirer” in Pennsylvania. 3 4 It was still circulating in 1914 when the same text was printed in the “Middletown Daily Times-Press” of Middletown, New York. 5 Thanks to top researcher Barry Popik who identified this primal version and located other valuable citations. 6

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1882 February 23, Nonconformist And Independent, Gleanings, Quote Page 178, Column 3, London, Middlesex, England. (NewspaperArchive)
  2. 1907 December 7, Daily People, Sparklets, Quote Page 2, Column 3, New York, New York. (GenealogyBank)
  3. 1907 December 19, Philadelphia Inquirer, Here and There: Clear But Confusing, Quote Page 8, Column 4, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (GenealogyBank)
  4. 1908 March 9, Titusville Herald, Clear but Confusing (Filler item), Quote Page 5, Column 7, Titusville, Pennsylvania. (NewspaperArchive)
  5. 1914 March 4, Middletown Daily Times-Press, Clear, but Confusing (Filler item), Quote Page 7, Column 5, Middletown, New York. (NewspaperArchive)
  6. Website: The Big Apple, Article title: ‘”Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded” (restaurant joke)’, Date on website: July 22, 2004, Website description: Etymological dictionary with more than 10,000 entries. (Accessed barrypopik on August 26, 2014)