Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
Jack: "How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless." Algernon: "Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them." ~ The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde, 1895
Do you like muffins with your tea? In the United States, muffins are similar to cupcakes and are available in sweet and savoury varieties. While in the UK, a muffin (referred to as an English muffin elsewhere) is a type of yeast-leavened bread and cooked in a griddle and flipped, resulting in the flattened shape. Other muffin-like variations such as crumpets (griddle cooked on one side from a simple batter with no yeast) are equally delicious and join the group of tea-time treats whose names also figure prominently as terms of endearment or even cheeky admiration!
The Muffin Lady
"Do you know the muffin man?
The muffin man, the muffin man.
Do you know the muffin man
Who lives in Drury Lane?"
If not, you may know the muffin lady of this namesake dance.
The word muffin is first found in print in 1703, spelled moofin; it is of uncertain origin but possibly derived from the Low German Muffen, meaning "small cakes," or possibly has a connection to the Old French moufflet, meaning "soft as said of bread."
Muffins in the United States are similar to cupcakes in size and cooking methods and are either sweet or savoury.
The English muffin is a type of yeast-leavened bread. Rather than being oven-baked, they are cooked in a griddle on the stove top and flipped from side-to-side, which results in their typical flattened shape rather than the rounded top seen in baked rolls or cake-type muffins.
The Muffin Man rhyme (and associated children's game) appears to have spread to other countries in the mid-nineteenth century, particularly the US and the Netherlands, and is first referred to in writing in 1820. As with many traditional songs, there are regional variations in wording. Another popular version substitutes "Dorset Lane" for Drury Lane.
Interestingly, in the United Sates, many states have their own official state muffins:
The corn muffin is the official state muffin of Massachusetts.
The apple muffin is the official state muffin of New York.
For more on this famous children's song and its origins, click the 11759 illustration ofLondon Cries: A Muffin Man by Paul Sandby