It is a well-known piece of folk-wisdom that when making a batch of pancakes, the first one is always a dud.

It is widespread enough that Urban Dictionary and others use it as an analogy for dating.

There are several articles and posts that take it as a given, and try to explain why the phenomenon exists (often using it as a hook to just give general pancake cooking tips):

But I am not convinced. Anecdotally, my first pancake frequently is not the worst of the batch. Could it be that like 11:11 it is just confirmation bias that makes people remember the times the first pancake is the worst?

I don't know, and worse, I can't figure how to find this out! This might be a tough one to answer, despite its frivolousness.

[I am talking domestic kitchens here; I suspect large pancake houses spend a lot of effort on ensuring the repeatability of their cooking processes.]

  • 10
    I used to make pancakes (or rather crepes but my family always called them pancakes) my dad's way, with an oral recipe. The first was always the worst, either too thick or too thin, and I would adjust the batter after it. Now I follow a good recipe I found online, and the first is just as good as the second and third. Sep 11, 2022 at 12:19
  • 5
    If you're cheapster (and you use all your materials), the last one is usually the worst in terms of looks.
    – Fizz
    Sep 11, 2022 at 15:58
  • 7
    It's certainly true for the pancakes that I cook, but that's anecdotal. I inevitably have the temperature wrong or the batter wrong. The first pancake tells me what to do with the rest to make it so the others come out much better than the first. Except maybe the last one (I do use all my ingredients). Sep 11, 2022 at 20:57
  • 3
    For what it's worth, there's a Russian proverb: Пе́рвый блин ко́мом (according to one translation: "the first pancake turns out to be a lump"). This suggests that the claim exists in other cultures as well.
    – Schmuddi
    Sep 14, 2022 at 13:33
  • 2
    I am not sure what kind of answer you would hope for. This seems highly dependent of who is doing the baking, and the recipe followed. It is clear, that for some procedures it is almost inevitable that the first pancake is bad. (It is certainly the case when I bake pancakes.) It seems equally plausible that there are procedures for baking pancakes where the first one is fine. So, it is likely true for some people and not true for others.
    – TimRias
    Sep 14, 2022 at 16:10


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