September 26 is National Pancake Day, a day to celebrate one of our favorite breakfast foods. The love of pancakes is so universal that #NationalPancakeDay is trending on Twitter.
Pancakes have been favorites around the world for centuries, and each country has developed their own unique spin. Pancakes are often made using starch-based batter that is cooked on a hot surface like a frying pan or griddle. You can top these flat cakes with fruit, whipped-creme or chocolate chips. You can even make pancakes with the chocolate chips inside them.
Here’s a look at the history of National Pancake Day and pancakes themselves.
1. National Pancake Day Was Born in 2005 as Lumberjack Day
Unlike many of the food holidays we celebrate online, National Pancake Day has a specific origin. It was born in 2005 as Lumberjack Day. Marianne Ways and Colleen AF Venable created the holiday as an excuse to eat waffles and pancakes with friends. They also didn’t care for the pirate-themed party craze that International Talk Like a Pirate Day started. So, they chose lumberjacks.
The holiday took off two years later, when Junior’s Cheesecake adopted the holiday. The restaurant was taken over by 50 people dressed as lumberjacks and carrying axes.
In 2013, the holiday found even more fans when it became National Pancake Day and national online media outlets started covering it.
The creators of Lumberjack Day also have a long list of ways to celebrate.
2. IHOP Celebrated Its Own National Pancake Day Back in March
If you’re thinking that today can’t be National Pancake Day because we already had one, you’re right. IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, celebrated its National Pancake Day back on March 7.
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The restaurant chain has been celebrating its own IHOP National Pancake Day since 2006 to raise money for charities. Since then, IHOP has raised $24 million for charity. For this year’s National Pancake Day, IHOP asked customers to donate to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As Time Magazine notes, IHOP’s goal was to raise $3.5 million.
Customers also got a free short stack of pancakes from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Some locations ran the promotion until 10 p.m.
3. Research Shows Pancakes Might Have Been Eaten 30,000 Years Ago
According to National Geographic, there’s evidence that our ancestors are pancakes 30,000 years ago. Researchers found starch grains on Stone Age grinding tools that suggests cooks made flour out of cattails and ferns. Cooks likely mixed this with water and baked it on a rock. The result would have been a flat cake, similar to today’s crepe, but it was still similar to a pancake.
National Geographic notes that the remains of Otzi the Iceman, who took died 5,300 years ago, included evidence of something like pancakes in his diet. His stomach contents included “ground einkorn wheat” and bits of charcoal that hints he might have eaten an early form of pancake.
Pancakes remained popular throughout Ancient Rome and Greece. Of course, when Europeans reached North America, they took pancakes with them. During the Elizabethan era, pancakes were eaten on Shrove Tuesday, a feast before the start of Lent.
4. Thomas Jefferson Was a Pancake Fan
Pancakes have been a treat loved by Americans since the founding of the country. Two recipes for pancakes was included in Amelia Simmons’ 1796 book American Cookery, notes National Geographic. One was called “Johny Cake, or Hoe Cake” and the other was “Indian Slapjack.”
Thomas Jefferson was reportedly a fan of pancakes as well. According to Making History, Jefferson’s breakfasts often included hoe cakes, which were pancakes made with cornmeal instead of flour. He was also eat cold meat and coffee or tea. Jefferson liked coffee though. “He said it was the drink of the civilized world,” Bill Barker, who “interprets” Jefferson at Colonial Williamsburg, told the site.
Benjamin Franklin also reportedly loved pancakes.
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5. The World’s Largest Pancake Was Made in Manchester, England in 1994
The Guinness World Records record for the biggest pancake in the world was set on August 13, 1994 by The Co-operative Union Ltd. in Manchester, England. They created a pancake measuring 49 feet, 3 inches (15.01 meters) in diameter and 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) deep. It weighed 6,614 lb.
The Guinness book is filled with other bizarre pancake records.
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The most tosses of a pancake in one minute was set by Australian chef Brad Jolly, who flipped a pancake 140 times in 60 seconds in 2012. The highest pancake toss record was set by Dominic Cuzzecrea, who flipped a pancake 31-feet and one inch in the air in New York in 2010.
The most expensive pancake in the world was unveiled at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel’s Opus in Macnhester, England in 2014. The pancake cost $1,350 and the filling included Scottish lobster, Beluga caviar and Hulle Verge Truffle.