Do you know the muffin man? (The muffin man… the muffin man…)


This essay was completed as part of my National Novel Writing Month effort in November 2011. It has been slightly edited from the format used at that time, and likely will be edited again at some point in the future. For now, here it is…

This morning I turned on the television and there was a commercial on. A well-known, worldwide company is now offering muffins and pastries and breads and whatnot at their locations. And so they did a take on the muffin man song as part of the commercial. A theme if you will, to hold the commercial together… and, possibly, to get us all humming the darn thing all day while pounding the concept into our mind.

Do you think the advertising agency that developed the story did some investigative work into Drury Lane though? Just wondering. Do you think the sales pitch included the idea of prostitution and pimps and a woman’s muffin? I suppose it’s possible… but I kind of doubt it.

We’ve all heard the song. And if finished for us, we’ll all nod and agree that “Drury Lane” it is to end the verse. So the question becomes… why the heck do we all know about Drury Lane?

Most versions of the song point to the Muffin Man of Drury Lane, with the oldest origin I can find attributed to about 1820.

Back in those days, many well to do households had deliveries of muffins… think more flat English muffins and scones than the sweet and cake-like American muffins. So on the surface we can see a way for people to know of a breakfast delivering man. Muffin man… milk man… home deliveries… it does sort of work.

Until it doesn’t.

In the Eighteenth Century… Drury Lane was the high point of culture. I hear there might have been some theater. That means culture. Right? (Ok… from what I found, it was not exactly the high point. It was a downtrodden area filled with alcohol and prostitutes.)

Muffin Man... alcohol... prostitutes.

Breaksfast deliveries and hookers? Hardly seems like the two have much in common. Right?

If we’re being innocent and niave…

Do you know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man?
Oh do you know the muffin man who lives on Drury Lane?

That’s easy enough. There’s this baker, the muffin man, and he lives on Drury Lane. Realistically we can take from that the thought that either the home of the muffin man himself or his shop is located on Drury Lane.


But ahh… yes… that adult version of the story.

Around those days the word muffin referred to a woman’s unmentionables. You know… one of those places her bathing suit covers. So if we take this interpretation, and revisit Drury Lane… with its prostitutes… then the muffin man might not be a baker at all. Instead we have slang terminology for a pimp.

(Lady Gaga might be pleased if you learned this possible definition. I’m guessing McDonald’s would not.)

And there you have it, those wacky British with their feathers in their hats and their macaroni. In this case, bringing new insight and meaning to your relationship with the muffin man.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at