When I was a young girl living in my parent's house, I often made pancakes for breakfast. Back in the day, we couldn’t afford pancake mix so I made them from scratch. One day in our kitchen as I was standing over a hot skillet turning pancakes, my Daddy asked one of the strangest questions.
“What’s that you’re making girl, Ho Cakes?”
Now, I was quite surprised when Daddy referenced my pancakes in that matter. What nerve he had to call my pancakes a “Ho”. It was totally unacceptable and out of line, but I couldn’t tell him that. It just wasn’t proper to speak without respect to your father.
“No Daddy, I’m making pancakes.”
“No, they’re Ho Cakes,” he insisted.
“Why are you making fun of my pancakes after I worked so hard to make enough for everyone?”
I’m not making fun of your food, girl. They are Ho Cakes.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let me explain. Back in the 1920’s when the stock market crashed there were many homeless people. They travel from town to town looking for work. They called these people Hobos. Hobo's carried their belongings on their backs. It was common for them to carry a cast-iron skillet to cook their meals and food that didn’t spoil quickly such as flour, sugar, coffee, and fat. They would camp out in the open and start a fire. Heat some fat in a cast-iron skillet and cook Ho Cakes also known as Hobo Cakes.”
“Really, were their cakes made of flour, sugar, baking powder, milk, and eggs like mine? Did they have to carry a bottle of vegetable oil to cook?”
“Ha, ha, ha. You really don’t know, do you girl? We use to cook with lard, not vegetable oil and most Hobos didn’t have eggs to eat every day or regular milk.”
“What’s the difference between lard and vegetable oil? And if they didn’t have eggs and milk, what did they put in their pancakes?”
“Lard is made from animal fat. They put whatever they had in their cakes mostly four, water, sugar, baking powder, and if they were lucky, powdered milk and eggs. If they had some salted meat, they put that in it too.”
“What did they use for syrup?”
“Syrup is easy to make girl. You take some sugar and water then stir in a little vanilla favoring and butter, if you have it. Then stir it on low heat until it gets thick and you have syrup.”
“Daddy, you’re making this story up, aren’t you?”
“If you don’t believe me, than ask your mother. Now pass me some of those Ho Cakes, before they get cold.”
I never asked my mother because Daddy’s story sounded believable to me. What do you think?