You Batter Believe That Nothing Stacks Up To The History of The Pancake


Art Courtesy of Susie Foster

Ava Chen and Abby Schindel

Whether it be flapjacks, crepes or Chinese street pancakes, everyone likes some kind of pancake. Sorry if you missed it, but March 12th was National Pancake Day, where you could go to iHOP and enjoy some free pancakes and donate to children battling critical illnesses.

Even though National Pancake Day might just be a marketing ploy, pancakes in general have a surprisingly long history, maybe even over 5,300 years long.

Ötzi, also called the Iceman, might have enjoyed pancakes. According to the South Tyrol Museums of Archaeology, Ötzi lived during the copper era, over 5,300 years ago. He is Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy and one of the oldest researched individuals in the world. His mummified body was discovered in 1991 in Italy. It was found that his stomach was full when he bled to death. Among the red deer, goat meat and ferns, there were also ground einkorn wheat and bits of charcoal. This suggests that the wheat was consumed, likely in the form of a pancake, and cooked over an open fire.

Pancakes may have originated there, but they seemed to be eaten all over the world in ancient times. According to a 2018 National Geographic article, the ancient Greeks and Romans ate pancakes somewhat similar to the American ones we eat today, sweetened with honey. In England, the Elizabethans consumed them with apples, rosewater, sherry, and spices.

Shrove Tuesday, in Christianity, is the day before Ash Wednesday and also the first day of Lent. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, during Lent, many followers fast for 40 days and 40 nights before Easter. During this time, eating eggs, butter and milk is historically forbidden. Feasting on pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, also known Pancake Day, was a way for people to use up the ingredients.

While feasting on pancakes and forbidden food has become less common, Shrove Tuesday is still celebrated around the world. According to, villages in the U.K. celebrate by holding pancake races where people run while flipping pancakes in a pan. In other countries, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday, which is apart of the Mardi Gras celebration. The most popular celebrations are in Rio de Janerio, New Orleans, Venice and Sydney.

Centuries ago, in American colonies, pancakes were made with buckwheat or cornmeal. According to Smithsonian, Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery, which is thought to be the first all-American cookbook published in 1796, featured simple pancake recipes, by then known as johnnycakes or flapjacks.

The term “flat as a pancake” has been around since 1611, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. People still use this catchphrase to describe certain things that are, well, as flat as a pancake. While sometimes the term might be used for fun, when referencing Kansas, it is actually as flat as a pancake. In 2003, some geographers actually measured how flat Kansas was. Mathematically speaking, a perfectly flat surface would have a value of 1. Pancakes have a flatness of 0.957 and Kansas is remarkably even flatter, scoring 0.9997.

Sammy Burmeister, ‘20, says that [she likes] them “because every morning when [her] mom makes them, the smell just wafts up to [her] room. It’s also a tradition in [her] family because it’s [her] grandpa’s recipe. Making them is just sort of a way to remember him.”

Grace and Good Eats food blogger Emily Grace offers some tips on how to perfect that amazing breakfast food.

She says, “if you’re using a skillet, make sure you have even heat, [and to] always spray your pan with a little bit of nonstick spray to keep your pancakes from sticking.”

While many people prefer the traditional, Western-style pancake, there are some that would rather have a crepe, or even something more unique, like Mandarin pancakes. Cōng yóu bǐng (葱油饼) is a popular Chinese street food which translates to “scallion pancake.” It is made with dough instead of batter like Western pancakes and is pan-fried in a way that gives it a crunchy crust and a chewy interior. It is vegan and very customizable depending on the ingredients you have and your taste preferences.

Pancakes are a classic breakfast treat, but not many people know the long standing history pancakes. They come in many differnt forms and different ingredients, but no matter how you eat your pancake or the kind you prefer, they are delicious and deserve to be celebrated.


Scallion Pancake (葱油饼) Recipe

These four-ingredient pancakes are soft and flaky with layers stuffed with scallions. Super delicious with a side of simple garlic and chili soy sauce, they are so popular that people in Taiwan not only eat it as a snack, but an egg is often added and eaten as breakfast or a meal, according to


2 C All Purpose Flour

1/4 t Salt

1/4 C Cold Water

1/2 C Boiling Hot Water


2 C Chopped Scallion

1/2 t Salt

1/4 C Oil


  1.     Mix the dry ingredients for the dough in a bowl,  add hot and cold water together to create warm water. Drizzle the water into the mixing bowl while mixing it together with a fork.
  2.     When the water is gone, knead the dough together until smooth. Cover with a wet towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  3.     Separate the green and white of the scallions, chop up the green parts. Quarter the stem of the white part, so it’s skinnier,  then chop them up like the green part. This is so the white part doesn’t poke out and break the pancake since it’s harder.
  4.     Mix the chopped scallions, salt, and oil. Evenly divide the rested dough into four parts, roll it out into a rectangle, as thin as you can, about 2mm thick. The size doesn’t really matter; this is just to create layers.
  1.     Spread 1/4C of scallion mix over the dough, roll it into a log, then roll it into a snail-shaped cake. Repeat.
  2.     Make sure you mix the scallion well everytime you scoop some so there’s enough oil to coat the surface of the dough.
  3.     Store in a tupperware or cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least four hours or in the fridge overnight.
  4.     Flatten the dough, and roll it out into about 10” in diameter. Stack up with plastic wrap/parchment paper and freeze until ready to use or follow the cooking instruction below.
  5.     Fry on medium heat with 1TBSP of oil, until cooked and golden, about three minutes each side.                                                                     

    Photo Courtesy of Ava Chen

Recipe Courtesy of