Essential Tea-Table Extras: The History of Dainty Accoutrements

Sterling-silver oval basket

English muffins (yeasted bread rather than the little cakelike American muffins so popular today) were originally made from leftover bread dough, biscuit [cookie]- dough scraps, and sometimes mashed potato, and the neat rounds of the mix were baked on a lightly greased griddle until golden brown. Until the 1950s, these were sold in Britain by “muffin men,” who peddled their wares in the streets, handing them out from vast trays carried on their heads. These itinerant salesmen announced their arrival with the loud ringing of a hand bell, and children throughout the land sang a song asking each other, “Oh, do you know the muffin man?” At breakfast or teatime, the muffins were toasted, torn in half, and the soft, steamy dough slathered with butter before being arranged in the muffin dish.



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