Pancake deaths and injuries in the eighteenth century

Happy Shrove Tuesday everyone! I wish you all a merry evening of batter-whipping, syrup-dripping, pancake-flipping revelry! But before the festivities commence, let us take a moment to commemorate those lives lost and injuries sustained in the eighteenth century due to improper use of pancakes.

First up, this domestic disagreement from the London Evening Post, January 25th 1766:


“…and taking up one of the pancakes, that were hissing hot, she slapp’d it full in his face, which hit him so exactly as to cover it, and stick on it like a mask. Mr Slender roared loudly, and said his eyes were burnt out. I could not help bursting into a loud laughter…”

Secondly, the tragic case of two young German ladies reported by the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, August 10th 1764:


“Two young lasses of this city having found in the absence of their parents, a certain white powder, which they took for flour, made some pancakes of it, and eat a pretty large quantity; but unfortunately this powder was poison. One of the girls is already dead, and it is thought impossible for the other to recover”

Thirdly, a woman struck down by epilepsy in the midst of making pancakes, reported in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, November 1, 1764. There was no improper use of pancakes in this case, it’s simply the sad story of a lost life. We will remember her:


“Last Thursday a woman, that lived next door to the Dolphin and Acorn at Hackney, fell down in an apolectic fit as she was frying pancakes, and died in a short time”

Next, the London Evening Post from March 27th 1773 shows how a chilling case of domestic abuse eventually culminates in murder by pancakes:


“Wednesday last Matthew Hutton, an ostler in this city was committed to the gaol of this city for the murder of his wife; it appeared upon examination before the coroner, that on Friday last he came home and ordered his wife to get some pancakes, which she did, and when she had fryed one, he took it to his plate, and then sent her out for some beer, during which time it is supposed he put some arsenik into the batter, as he eat no more, and she dies the next morning at eight o’clock in great agonies . . . he endeavoured to poison her about a month ago in coffee, and never came home till the above evening for a long time past, keeping company with another woman. The remainder of the batter is taken care of, and is intended to be analyzed”

And lastly, the tragic case of a Cork man who never got to enjoy the pancakes he was so looking forward to (from the Public Advertiser, March 17th 1767):


“Monday last, at Mallow Fair, a Man choaked himself by Excess of Eating. He had laid a Bet with his Companion that he would eat three Pennyworth of new Bread and two Pounds of Cheese, while the other could sup two Quarts of Ale with a Table Spoon; and while the Deceased was taking the last Bit, he declared he had never before got such a delicious Feast of the Kind, but he was afraid it would spoil his Meal on Pancakes the next Day.”

Stay safe in the kitchen tonight people. Enjoy your pancakes, and remember those we’ve lost.


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