Pancakes #11: The Pancake Bookshelf

Some of you are under the impression that Retrospace invented the "pancake" terminology - this couldn't be farther from the truth.  Indeed, the term has been a by-word and local idiom for sexual tomfoolery since at least the mid-fifties - possibly much, much earlier.  As such, there have been a handful of hard-to-find tomes on the subject; mostly published within the U.K.  I'd like to share with you some rare examples of pancake texts I've been able to dredge up; it's my pleasure to return these long forgotten works back to the light of day.  Those doing scholarly work on the subject of pancakes will no doubt find this post useful.  Enjoy.

Scour the dregs of Ebay or the dusty bins of your local flea market and you may just find some pancake ephemera.  I found this one at a library that was weeding out some of its dated materials.  Luckily I was able to save it before it was lost forever, as I doubt there are very many like it still out there.

Of course, these old books are not only fun to look at, but also a useful tool in cataloging the history of pancakes in our culture.  "The Case Against Pancakes" (1961) typifies the general consensus of the time: pancakes spell trouble.

It is interesting to note that Penguin released not one, but four separate nonfiction texts on the subject of pancakes.  All are currently out of print, but well worth the hunt.

I found this one the most informative of them all - with gorgeous illustrations throughout.  This should be required reading for any pancake scholar worth his or her salt.

I'll admit, this one was a tough read.  Those not familiar with the jargon may find this a bit of a heavy read.  That being said, it is perhaps one of the most in depth studies of pancakes I've seen.  A well researched triumph of academic rigor.

"Pancakes Revisited" (1957) is the oldest pancake text that I can find. As the title implies, there must have been an earlier work.  In fact, the author alludes to the missing work several times in the book.  Admittedly, I never finished this one: the font is so damn small - I swear it's a 2 pt. Times Roman! The eye strain gave me a headache, so I had to punch out by Chapter 4.

The Sexual Revolution was in full swing and publishers were quick to capitalize on the trend.  The new sensibility led many parents to want to tackle the subject of pancakes with their children with an unprecedented straight-forwardness.  "Pancakes are for Everyone" is rather shocking in its frankness, and perhaps more than a little overboard.

Evidently, there was a pancake television program that aired on the BBC - this is its accompanying magazine.   Don't bother with Wikipedia or doing a Google search; you'll come up empty.  "Pancake Parade" will have to remain an enigma until someone comes forward with some old tapes. Pancake history is as frustrating as it is fascinating.  For every new bit uncovered, a new mystery is born.


  1. I believe every word of this!

  2. Reuben Kincaide? Come on...

  3. I've shared with my friend, Mr. Sam Pancake.

  4. I want these texts on my shelf next to my well worn copy of An Idiot's Guide to Pancakes and the better known Pancakes For Dummies.

  5. AnonymousMay 01, 2013

    Didn't Dr. Joyce Brothers write one..."Once Upon A Pancake"?

  6. Genius. "Pan-Cake Production for the 20th Century...with maps and plans?" I'm still laughing at that one...

  7. I'm not surprised they discussed pancakes on BBC children's television...one of its most enduring series for kids is "Blue Peter", still airing after 55 years.

  8. you almost had me fooled, until i spotted that 'practical pancake making today' features a photo clearly from the eighties, yet the price tag is in old money. uk went decimal in 1971. just so you know for next time ;-D

  9. Where's the syrup?

  10. AnonymousMay 01, 2013

    Yes, I was buying it until Reuben Kincade. Very clever, though. Very clever.

  11. J. Bevington TaliaferroMay 02, 2013

    It's true that Pancakes Spell Trouble. If a fella taps a high-maintenence gal he can expect to reap a whirlwind of bitching and moaning. She might even spend all his money, wreck his new car and trot out with his good time buddy to go drinking in a cross-town bar. They will make pancakes and offer a whole lot of none to him. There will be problems that demand some pretty ugly solutions. Now it's fine for a pancake scientist to try and warn us off, but it ain't gonna happen good people. It ain't gonna happen because my love light is shining bright. Time to whip up some smooth creamy batter.

  12. AnonymousMay 02, 2013

    Thurman Munson, PHD was a fine writer as far as MLB players go (although he was no Jim Bouton). And Tom Wopat became quite knowledgable on the subject of pancakes while driving the backwoods of Hazzard County in the General Lee. Of course, it goes without saying that Reuben Kincade's pancake experiences are legendary (Come on Get Happy!!).