George Washington's Birthday Treat: Hoecakes

By Carissa DiMargo
|  Friday, Jan 14, 2011  |  Updated 12:59 PM EDT
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George Washington's Birthday Treat: Hoecakes

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Imitator William Sommerfield, as General George Washington, waits to greet visitors outside Mount Vernon, in 2004.

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The Mount Vernon estate continues its merry charade of pretending George Washington is actually still alive, this time by throwing a surprise 279th birthday for him, complete with hoecakes. Good times!

The fun is happening daily Feb. 19-21, featuring "General Washington" (psst: it's a fake!) "receiving surprise birthday cheers," 18th-century music and gifts presented from his historical-figure friends. On Feb. 19 and 20, you can nom Washington's favorite breakfast, hoecakes with butter and honey.

Hoecakes -- also known as johnnycakes -- is a pancake-flat form of cornbread. According to PaulaDeen.com:

"Originally they were made from ground Indian corn and cooked on hot stones over a campfire. The name some Native Americans gave them was 'jonican' and many regions now call them Johnny Cakes....

However, here in the South, the thin flat bread cakes were originally cooked on the face of a planting hoe held over an open flame. The hoes used by field hands had a wider face and were a perfect surface for cooking these flat bread cakes. Consequently, the name, “Hoecakes” was born!

Monday, Feb. 21 features a big ol' party with free admission, military demonstrations, and a "surprise" party -- plus a wreathlaying ceremony at Washington's tomb. So maybe they have come to terms with the truth. Oh well, it's fun to pretend. Especially it it means we can talk about hoecakes some more. Hoecakes, hoecakes, hoecakes!


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