There Is A Scientific Reason Pancakes Are Round

Pancakes have been widely beloved since Ancient Greeks chowed down on the breakfast food and even wrote poetry about them in 600 B.C. according to Betty Crocker. Kate's Kitchen KC details the ancient recipe, explaining that those early pancakes were made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk. The pancakes definitely hit the mark because not only did people keep making them, but they became iconic. Thomas Jefferson was such a fan that, as the third president of the United States, he sent the White House pancake recipe to his boyhood town. Shakespeare included them in not one, but two of his plays: "All's Well That Ends Well" and "As You Like It" (via Swindon Advertiser). 

Pancakes are just that good. Add a little butter, some syrup, or your topping of choice, be it savory or sweet, and you have a heavenly meal. But have you ever wondered why pancakes are round? Okay, depending on your skill level they may not be perfectly round, but they will always be generally circular. Clearly, there are plenty of other geometric shapes our favorite breakfast food could be. Is the batter simply taking the shape of our frying pan? It turns out science can explain the pancake's round shape.

Gravity and surface tension create the roundness

Nature gravitates toward uniformity and efficiency, so the second you start to pour your batter it begins to extend outward at the same speed, creating a round puddle (via Straight Dope). According to Mental Floss, gravity and surface tension create the roundness of our pancakes. Gravity pulls and tugs at everything with equal force including your pancake batter, which causes it to spread evenly and symmetrically in a circular shape. But why does it retain this shape? Surface tension. The surface tension of your poured batter causes your pancake to hold its shape. Science Sparks compares surface tension to a force on your liquid that creates "an elastic sheet" or "layer of skin." This sheet or layer holds the molecules tightly together, which helps your pancake keep that roundness.

So the next time you go to IHOP and wonder why your pancakes are round, you can chalk it up to gravity and surface tension. As Straight Dope says, if you are not a fan of the round pancake and prefer a square shape you would be better off with a waffle. You can always pour the batter at an angle if you are looking for pancakes with a less typical shape, as Mental Floss suggests.