Hoecake is a type of thin cornbread made of cornmeal, salt, and water, which is baked on a griddle. It became known as "hoecake" because field hands often cooked it on a shovel or hoe held to an open flame. Hoes designed for cotton fields were large and flat with a hole for the long handle to slide through. The blade would be removed and placed over a fire much like a griddle.

Hoecake is notably the namesake of the cakewalk dance form. During the 19th century, slaveholders would hold dance competitions for their slaves, offering hoecake as a reward to the winner. Then known as the chalk line dance, the form became known as the cakewalk when it rose to prominence with the advent of ragtime music.

The hoecake is also known as the johnny-cake, the Shawnee cake, the ash cake, and the no cake.

The Hoecake in Fiction

In Jean Fritz's children's book George Washington's Breakfast the protagonist finds out that George Washington did eat hoecakes for breakfast.

In Isaac Asimov's novel Second Foundation, a peasant family on the planet Rossem is preparing hoecake for their meal.


"Ho Cake" is a song by soul/funk/R&B band JJ Grey & Mofro. Lyricist and lead singer JJ Grey sings a tribute to his grandmother's southern cooking "My Granny makes the best cracklin' ho cake/It tastes so good I can't wait to dip my plate..."



  • Bartlett, John Russell. Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States, fourth edition. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. (1889
  • Hundley, Daniel R., Esq. Social Relations in Our Southern States. New York: Henry B. Price (1860).

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