The History of Flapjacks

history of flapjacks
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What is the history of Flapjacks?

So, what is the history of flapjacks? They are tasty oat-based, buttery sweet snack bars that will make your mouth water. These oven-baked bars have a rich, light brown texture and a delicious aromatic smell that will make anyone fail on their summer diet! They’re traditionally made with Lyle’s golden syrup.

This delicious oat snack is the first love of the sweet-toothed for a long time. Historically the mighty flap jacks can be traced back to Britain in 1600 AD. However, they likely go back to the 1300s or earlier, given how they are so easily made

What this article covers

  • When do Flapjacks first appear in history?
  •  The Origins of Flapjacks
  • Why is Flapjack called Flapjack??
  •  Who invented Flapjacks?
  •  Are Flapjacks just a thick pancake?

The Origin of Flapjacks?

So who invented flapjacks? The oat flapjack is a favorite snack enjoyed worldwide, and its popularity has led to its place of origin is highly contested. However, if we go by the evidence, the flapjack recipe likely first appeared in the United Kingdom of Britain around the 1600s.

The evidence is present to prove the British origin of flapjacks. The famous English playwright William Shakespeare wrote about them in his Jacobean Play in 1607.

“Come, thou shalt go home, and we’ll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting days, and moreover puddings and flapjacks, and thou shalt be welcome.”

Act, scene 1 of Pericles, the Prince of Tyre.

Why are flapjacks called flap jacks?

So why is a flapjack called a flapjack? It is quite a strange combination of words without relevance to the ingredients. This must mean that the term originated from something else. The words themselves can cast some light as to where the name flap jack came from. Lets have a look into some flapjack history


We see the appearance of the word ‘flap’ in the 1300s, where it refers to ‘flip,’ which is used for baking the ‘Flip Jack’ by flipping and catching it in the griddle pan when the snack was cooked on one side.


 Meanwhile, around the 1600s, the name Jack was used in Middle English for “any common fellow” and could be used as a name for anything ‘common.’ Given flapjacks are tasty, cheap, and easy to make, it is likely to flapjacks were a commoner’s snack in 1600s Britain.

The official origin of flapjacks in history

Flapjack was added to the American Dictionary in 1920 and referred to as the morning snack to appease hunger. 

Historians may have differing opinions about the origin of the word jack. Still, they can be sure where the combination came from. They explain a new form of pancake. Cooks from history speak about ‘flipping’ the pancake recipe. The fresh pancakes, later known as flapjacks, were made from honey, butter, oats, and syrup.

Who invented Flapjacks?

In truth, people have yet to learn who in history invented flapjacks. Cookery historians have claimed that the codgers of the American Old West invented the first flapjacks with flour and fruit syrup. The evidence to support this is again in the name. 

They named their snack’ apple jacks’ and through history the name applejacks have become flapjacks. Some sources claim that the name of this snack could also refer to the flipping of the old pancake recipes.

There are also links to Scandinavia, with some referring to the recipe as Thor cakes (Tharf cakes), biscuits made from oatmeal, brown sugar, and butter. Thor cakes were also local to Cumberland, UK, and eaten at celebrations.

It is presumed that flapjacks are Granola bars’ predecessors, also from the UK. 

Are Flapjacks just a thick pancake?

Flapjacks are not a type of pancake, in early British history, the pancake contained cornmeal & the difference between the recipes is quite stark. Pancakes require eggs & milk. 

Flapjacks were usually roasted or fried. In contrast with pancakes, flap jacks only require only staple ingredients.

Still, some assume that the makers took inspiration from pancakes. However, flapjack recipes, flavors, and textures are different enough to earn them their title.

What is a Traditional British Flapjack?

Throughout British history a flapjack has been a buttery, sweet snacks are known as flap jacks. They are the best treat for suppers, your lunch box, a hiking snack, or even a dessert. The inhabitants of the United Kingdom consider flapjacks to be a baked bar of rolled-out oats (not a pancake) cooked in an oven and enjoyed at every opportunity.

The Traditional Recipe of Flapjacks

Historically, the people of Britain in the 1800s made flapjacks by melting thick sugar into a rich & chewy golden syrup (Lyles Golden Syrup). Then they mixed this up with crushed oats. As well as oats, the essentials of the traditional recipe are butter, a pinch of salt, and Lyles golden syrup

After mixing them for five minutes, the mixture thickened into a chewy golden syrup snack, then placed into a baking tray and the preheated oven.

The process takes about twenty minutes. However, multiple variations for flapjack recipes have developed over time. Such deviations were created from many people’s imaginations and experiments over the years. Some more ingredients include seeds, nuts, coconut, dried apricots, golden syrup, and more.

For the best Flapjack recipe click here.


Flapjacks have become one of the most treasured snacks around the world. British tea time is complete with a pancake to polish off the day or even to start it. They have come from a humble origin, but they are now one of the most popular bakery items -yum.

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