Where does the word “Johnnycake” come from and What does Johnnycake mean?

We wish it were possible to tell with certainty why the New England corn pone “Johnnycake” is so named, but all accounts are tinged with speculation.

The present name was in use early in the eighteenth century, and, though some folks did speak of the same rather durable ration as journey-cake, it is much more probable that johnny preceded journey than the reverse.

However, some fifty or sixty years earlier than our first record of johnnycake, New England housewives were serving what was then called Jonakin or Jonikin to their households.

Susan F. Cooper, many years later, described these as “thin, wafer-like sheets, toasted on a board, eaten at breakfast, with butter.”

Dr. M. M. Mathews, in Dictionary of Americanisms, suggests the possibility of a relationship between Jonakin and johnnycake.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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