Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man

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"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man"
Roud #6486
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man 1 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
William Wallace Denslow illustrations for Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
Written by Traditional
Published 1698
Written England
Language English
Form Nursery rhyme
Tommy (or me), according to Denslow

"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man", "Pat-a-cake", "patty-cake" or "pattycake" is one of the oldest and most widely known surviving English nursery rhymes. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 6486.

Lyrics[edit]

Common modern versions include:

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Pat it, roll it and mark it with a "B",
Put it in the oven for baby and me.[1]
Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Roll it up, roll it up;
And throw it in a pan!
Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man.[2][3]
Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Roll it up, roll it up;
Put it in a pan;
And toss it in the oven as fast as you can!

Origins[edit]

The earliest recorded version of the rhyme appears in Thomas D'Urfey's play The Campaigners from 1698, where a nurse says to her charges:

...and pat a cake Bakers man, so I will master as I can, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and throw't into the Oven.

The next appearance is in Mother Goose's Melody, (c. 1765), in the form:

Patty Cake, Patty Cake,
Baker's Man;
That I will Master,
As fast as I can;
Prick it and prick it,
And mark it with a T,
And there will be enough for Tommy and me.[1]

The game[edit]

A common style of playing pat-a-cake.

The rhyme is often accompanied by hand-clapping between two people, a clapping game. It alternates between a normal individual clap with two-handed claps with the other person. The hands may be crossed as well. This allows for a possibly complex sequence of clapping that must be coordinated between the two. If told by a parent to a child, the "B" and "baby" in the last two lines are sometimes replaced by the child's first initial and first name.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

In film:

  • Bing Crosby and Bob Hope used this rhyme in many of their Road to... pictures (1940–62) when physically threatened, distracting their attacker, and at an appropriate point would switch from patting the "cakes" to suddenly slugging their assailant. On some occasions, they made a self-referential remark that the antagonist in question had/had not seen their previous movies.
  • In the short film Baker's Men, by Harriette Yahr, two little girls de-construct the rhyme coming up with humorous yet poignant insights about it.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), it is whispered that Jessica Rabbit and Marvin Acme have been playing "patty cake" -- apparently a euphemism for adultery. But when Eddie Valiant takes revealing photographs of Acme inside Jessica's dressing room -- with her moaning in her characteristically sexy, sultry manner -- it is revealed that they are literally playing "patty cake". Apparently, patty cake is considered a form of adultery in the cartoon world.

In TV:

  • In the episode "Hammer Into Anvil" (1967) of The Prisoner, as a part of his plot to drive Number 2 into madness, Number 6 sends a message coded in morse that turns out to be the words from the song.
  • The joke used by Crosby and Hope was also attempted by Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and his old army buddy, Sid (Don Rickles) in the Get Smart (1965–70) episode, "The Little Black Book"; in their case, it failed.
  • In several episodes of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Mario and/or Luigi would either play patty cake or chant the rhyme to a star. Their variation was "Patty cake, Patty cake, Pasta man. Give me pasta power as fast as you can."
  • In an episode[which?] of LazyTown (2004–7), Stingy says the last part of the rhyme: "And mark it with an 's' and put it in the oven for me."
  • In the Oobi (2004–7) episode "Uma Sick", Oobi and Kako are playing pat-a-cake, pronouncing it like "pah-a-cake."

In popular music:

  • Bill Haley & His Comets recorded a rock and roll version of the nursery rhyme in 1953.
  • The Clipse song "Grindin'" (2002) uses the lyric "patty cake patty cake I'm the bakers man, I bake them cakes as fast as I can".
  • Composer Martin Wesley-Smith (b. 1945) used the tune in his composition "White Knight Waltz".
  • The Kidsongs Kids recorded their versions in the Kidsongs videos "Good Night, Sleep Tight" in 1986 and with the Biggles in "Adventures in Biggleland: Billy's Birthday" in 1998.
  • Medeski Martin & Wood play their version of this rhyme in their album Let's Go Everywhere.
  • New Orleans rapper Curren$y references the rhyme in the song "Life Instructions" on his mixtape Covert Coup as "Patty cake, patty cake, I'm baked my man".

In musical theatre

In comics

  • Patty-Cake is a comic book created by artist/writer Scott Roberts, which ran from 1995 to 2005. The title character, named Patty-Cake Bakerman, also appeared frequently in Nickelodeon Magazine. The series also ran under the title "Patty-Cake & Friends."
  • The rhyme features in the Batman series The Long Halloween, where the Scarecrow recites a disjointed version, along with other nursery rhymes. Upon reaching the final part, he sings "Mark it with 'B'. And put it in the oven for Batman and me."

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 341–2. ISBN 9780198600886.
  2. ^ Arlene James, A Family to Share (Thorndike Press, 2006). ISBN 9780786289264.
  3. ^ Andrea Campbell, Great Games for Great Parties (Sterling, 1991). ISBN 9780806983189.