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Posted by Bruce Kahl on October 24, 2002

In Reply to: Johnnycake posted by Bookworm on October 24, 2002

: According to Merriam Webster, johnnycake is bread made from cornmeal and probably originated from a person named Johnny. However, I've heard another story. Early American settlers ate this on long trips so they called it 'journey cake'. Over the years "journey" came to be pronounced "johnny", hence johnnycake. It sounds plausible enough, is there any proof of this theory?

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
SYLLABICATION: john·ny·cake
VARIANT FORMS: also jon·ny·cake
NOUN: New England & Upper Midwest Cornmeal bread usually shaped into a flat cake and baked or fried on a griddle. Also called Regional batter bread, Regional battercake, Regional corn cake, Regional cornpone, Regional hoecake, Regional journey cake, Regional pone, Regional Shawnee cake. Also called regionally Regional ashcake.
ETYMOLOGY: Perhaps by folk etymology from jonakin.
REGIONAL NOTE: When the Native Americans showed the Pilgrims how to cook with maize, they must have taught them to make johnnycake, a dense cornmeal bread whose thick batter is shaped into a flat cake and baked or fried on a griddle. Johnnycake, also spelled jonnycake and also called journey cake and Shawnee cake, is a New England specialty, especially in Rhode Island, where it is celebrated by the Society for the Propagation of Johnny Cakes. The Usquepaugh, Rhode Island, Johnnycake Festival features johnnycakes made of white Indian corn called flint corn. Outside New England the name johnnycake is best known in the Upper Midwest, but the food itself is most popular in the South and South Midland states, where it is known as ashcake, batter bread, battercake, corn cake, cornpone, or hoecake. The color of the cornmeal, the consistency of the batter, the size of the cake, and the cooking method can vary from region to region. For example, an ashcake, according to a Georgia informant, is "made by wrapping cornbread batter in cabbage leaves and burying it gently at the back of the fireplace" (Dudley Clendinen).

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