Selling like hotcakes

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5 comments on this post.
  1. Steve C:

    As a half-life long resident of Kansas, your mention of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday brings to mind the internationally famous Pancake Race in Liberal, Kansas. I say international because entrants not only race against each other but also against runners in Olney, England–a sister city, I think.

    The race is an alleged reenactment of the following story (from

    “In Olney, the Pancake Race tradition dates back more than 500 years to 1445. A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron-clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach the church first and collect a ‘Kiss of Peace’ from the verger (bell-ringer.) The kiss is still the traditional prize in both races.

    Racers must still wear a head scarf and apron and the runner must flip her pancake at the starting signal, and again after crossing the finish line, to prove she still has her pancake.”

    Liberal has only had the tradition since 1950. The road where the race is run, also U.S. highway 54, has actually been renamed “Pancake” in honor of the race.

  2. H. Freckenhorst:

    Then there’s the 1934 version of Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life, in which Claudette Colbert makes a fortune selling pancakes made from a recipe supplied by Louise Beavers, who plays an African-American friend who works as Colbert’s maid. It’s a very odd piece of early Hollywood racial awareness.

  3. Josh Carta:

    Hi, thanks for this very usefull post. I can definitely use this! I’ve bookmarked your blog

  4. gina thorne:

    I just bought “The Word Origin” calendar, and there version of this saying dates back to medieval England, where “crepes” were considered hotcakes and sold at fairs. And as they were popular French fare, became a favorite of those attending. The English “pigged out” on them, so to speak.

  5. Kaveh Farrokh » Blog Archive » 30 Common English Idioms and the History Behind Them:

    […] “Selling like hotcakes:” Around 1839, this tasty term likened anything that sold out quickly to one of America’s most popular foodstuffs. Hotcakes and pancakes have always enjoyed a beloved spot in the nation’s culinary heart, and serve as some of the best metaphors for anything that flies off the shelves. They never blew up as one major “flash in the pan” fad, but rather endured as a classic, reliable comfort food. […]

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