The Wayfarer in New York, published in 1909, written by Edward Martin, contained this line: “Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city…. It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap”. Yet surprisingly this obscure line is more a coincidence than the origin of the ubiquitous phrase “the big apple”.
New York more likely received that name through it’s prestigious horse racing history. Apples were often a symbolic prize along with the cash received for winning a horse race in the early 1900’s. To win in New York meant that you were the best of the best which prompted newspaper man, John J. Fitz Gerald, to refer to it as the big apple in the New York Morning Telegraph. The earliest reference being, “J. P. Smith, with Tippity Witchet and others of the L. T. Bauer string, is scheduled to start for “the big apple” to-morrow after a most prosperous Spring campaign at Bowie and Havre de Grace.”