A hoe-cake is a flat cake similar to a pancake that's made with cornmeal. It was originally cooked by farmers right on the end of their hoes over a fire.

Snake Baked a Hoecake  - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


There are many little variations of this rhyme.

Here's an old version from "The Prairie Scout, or Agatone the Renegade: A Romance of Border Life" (1802) by Charles Wilkins Webber:

Snake baked de hoe-cake--
Set de Frog to mind it--
Frog went to sleep--
Lizard came and stole it.


Hoecakes originally come from the Native Americans.

Below is an interesting passage I found in a book from 1805 that includes a recipe for making hoecakes. The book is called "A Treatise on the Art of Bread-making" (1805) by Abraham Edlin.

To Make Indian Hoe Cake.
By Captain Smith.

"Take a peck of maize flour, knead it with a little salt and some water, into a dough; roll it out into thin cakes, and let them be baked on a hot broad iron hoe...

This bread is in common and daily use throughout the whole continent of North America. To strangers it has a harsh unpleasant taste, but the natives most commonly prefer it to wheaten bread..."

Later recipes for hoecakes often include sugar and flour. In the northern U.S. these were/are called Johnnycakes.

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