The History Of Pancakes Goes Back Longer Than You Might Think

A warm, fluffy, pancake right off the griddle is the dream way to start the day. Kids have been begging their parents for chocolate chip, blueberry, or cinnamon swirl pancakes for what feels like forever. Every culture today has some version of the soft flapjack using eggs, flour, salt, and a liquid (milk, water, etc.) to make a golden brown cake we then drench in syrup or butter. Whether it's the cloud-like Japanese pancakes or the Argentinian crepe, people will eat them up! Of course, different variations of this wonderful breakfast involve adding sugar, vanilla, and even baking powder to make the pancake sweet and airy.

The sugary stuff we devour at iHop today may not be the exact kind our ancestors indulged in, but it's pretty close! Pancakes have been around as long as recorded civilization, which begs the question, how has the flapjack not only survived but also evolved throughout history?

The prehistoric pancake

Many of us would be unable to guess how old the pancake really is. According to National Geographic, scientists have discovered tools reflective of the mortar and pestle, used to grind grain dating back over 30,000 years! The starch found on the tools was made out of ferns, which were likely turned into some kind of batter and cooked on fire-heated rocks (it was the Stone Age after all). Obviously, these were probably the hardest and least flavorful pancakes in human history, but they were the first, and most rudimentary, fried cakes.

That wasn't the end of the pancake's journey through history. The first written record of the pancake occurred in 600 BC Greece when a writer waxed poetic about warm hotcakes (via Betty Crocker). But who can blame them? Drizzled in honey and fresh off the frying pan, anyone would be inclined to write a short love poem to the treat.

From there, the next well-documented piece of pancake history is in Elizabethan England. The Tudor Travel Guide gives us a glimpse into how hot cakes were enhanced by the wealthy through the use of fresh milk instead of beer or wine, which is what poorer citizens used to make their batter. Royalty even used things like nutmeg and fruit to sweeten their food. This is the point at which the pancake became the creation we are more familiar with today.