The History of the Pancake
Blueberry, chocolate chip, banana or buttered… the list goes on, but you already know we’re talking about pancakes! Pancakes have been a breakfast favorite since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Seriously, it is believed that a pancake like meal may have been enjoyed by our prehistoric ancestors due to starch grains found on 30,000-year-old grinding tools. They must have created flour from cattails and ferns, which they mixed with water and baked on hot rocks. So, we think it’s safe to say that a food like the pancake has withstood the test of time.
Since Ancient times, food that resembled a pancake was recognized as the perfect fare for people to use up their perishables such as eggs, milk and butter during what we know as Pancake Day, or Shrove Day to many. Pancake Day is dedicated to feasting and celebrating before the beginning of Lent. Pancakes were also a simple enough meal for all to afford and enjoy. The ancient Greeks used honey drizzled on flat loafs, while the Romans created a dish similar to the modern pancake. During Medieval Times, they made their pancakes with barely or rye without a leavening, unlike the fluffy versions we know today. Then there were the Elizabethans, who flavored them with spices, rosewater, sherry and apples. Although each culture had a unique style of cooking or used slightly different ingredients, the meal shared a similar concept and origin no matter where it was made.
Now flash forward to Colonial Times, where pancakes were made with buckwheat or cornmeal. George Washington loved pancakes with syrup for breakfast. Then there was Thomas Jefferson, who loved the meal so much, he sent a recipe for a more crepe like pancake home to Monticello from Washington D.C. These were made by pouring dollops of thin batter into a hot pan and were puffier than past recipes. Throughout this time period, pancakes were typically referred to as griddlecakes or johnnycakes.
Pancakes continued to be a simple, delicious household meal as they required no stove and used common ingredients. One of the defining characteristics that has carried through from one version of the pancake to the next, is their flatness. You’ve all heard the saying “flat as a pancake,” and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, that phrase has been around since at least 1611. And we don’t see it losing steam any time soon.
The Committed Pig loves a good stack of pancakes and if you’re looking for a unique, savory bite, stop by one of our locations. Try our cookie dough or red velvet pancakes that are sure to change the way you look at pancakes forever!