Scandinavian Folklore and Folktales #3: The Runaway Pancake

Antique Book Cover “The Pancake” a Norwegian Fairy Tale, Sampson Low & Company

This is a folktale called “The Pancake” or “The Runaway Pancake.” The story is most likely Russian or Scandinavian in origin, and was first written down in Norway in the mid nineteenth century. In Russia, the pancake is a kind of doughy cake called Kolobok. There are versions recorded at around the same time in Germany, England and Scotland, and in America the story very probably inspired The Gingerbread Man, published in 1875.

It is about a woman with seven hungry children who decides to make pancakes for the family’s breakfast. However, the first pancake escapes being eaten by jumping out of the frying pan …. Well why not just let you read the story (from University of Pittsburgh’s Folk and Fairy-Tale Site):

You can find more Norwegian Folk Tales in this book

The Pancake or The Runaway Pancake

ONCE upon a time there was a good housewife, who had seven hungry children. One day she was busy frying pancakes for them, and this time she had used new milk in the making of them. One was lying in the pan, frizzling away — ah! so beautiful and thick — it was a pleasure to look at it. The children were standing round the fire, and the husband sat in the corner and looked on.

The Norwegian Fairy Book, 1922 by Clara Stroebe ill. by George W. Hood (The Cronicle of Pancake)

“Oh, give me a bit of pancake, mother, I am so hungry!” said one child.

“Ah, do! dear mother,” said the second.

“Ah, do! dear, good mother,” said the third.

“Ah, do! dear, good, kind mother,” said the fourth.

“Ah, do! dear, good, kind, nice mother,” said the fifth.

“Ah, do! dear, good, kind, nice, sweet mother,” said the sixth.

“Ah, do! dear, good, kind, nice, sweet, darling mother,” said the seventh. And thus they were all begging for pancakes, the one more prettily than the other, because they were so hungry, and such good little children.

“Yes, children dear, wait a bit until it turns itself,” she answered — she ought to have said “until I turn it” — “and then you shall all have pancakes, beautiful pancakes, made of new milk — only look how thick and happy it lies there.”

When the pancake heard this, it got frightened, and all of a sudden, it turned itself and wanted to get out of the pan, but it fell down in it again on the other side, and when it had been fried a little on that side too, it felt a little stronger in the back, jumped out on the floor, and rolled away, like a wheel, right through the door and down the road.

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? You can read the whole thing here. You can also watch it here, although this is a modified version from the original: