Buckwheats or Griddles

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed May 19 21:58:09 UTC 2004

FANCY BREAD.  [an ad from Jonas Humbert, baker, warning against eating] a substitute, now so much in use, viz, the Griddles, or as some have the term, Buckwheats.  This kind of food is not fit for the human frame. . . .  Buckwheat is emphatically called a "Robber."  It absorbs in too great a degree the juices.  Public Advertiser, January 21, 1808, p. 3, col. 2; Mercantile Advertiser, January 23, 1808, p. 3, col. 3.

The OED doesn't show "griddle" in itself as a word for a type of food cooked on a griddle; it has griddle-cakes, &c., of course.  It has 1830 as the earliest occcurrence of "buckwheat", meaning "a buckwheatcake".  The OED further remarks, under "Buckwheat" that the "seed is in Europe used as food for horses, cattle, and poultry; in N. America its meal is made into ‘buckwheat cakes’, regarded as a dainty for the breakfast-table" -- which, I believe, is exactly what Mr. Humbert is trying to tell us.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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