Mar 26 2011

The Happy Pancake Witch

Published by under Happiness,Pancakes,Witches

If you are like most people whose web searches have brought them to this site, then you are a member of Generation X who has been plagued most of your life with a very strange memory.    You probably remember something about a witch, you might remember something about a little boy, but you most definitely remember something about pancakes that make people happy.   And, somehow, polka dots have something to do with it.

You have mentioned this to others, and received mostly blank stares in return.  On occasion you find someone else with the same haunting memory.   But no one seems to be able to remember just what it was.

Well, I have good news for you.   You were not imagining things, and you were not crazy.   Sometime in the early to mid 1970s — perhaps in your library, perhaps in a classroom — you saw a 23-minute short film called Winter of the Witch.   It is based on a children’s book called Old Black Witch by Harry and Wende Devlin.  The film was made in 1969 and stars Hermione Gingold as the Witch, Roger Morgan (in his only known role) as Nicky, Anna Strasberg as the unnamed single mother, and narration by Burgess Meredith.

Here is the film in its entirety, from YouTube:



Why we saw this is a bit of a mystery.   It begins with a “Learning Corporation of America” logo, though the film seems to have no educational value.   And the the primary message of the film seems to be that lacing the food supply with LSD is the solution to the world’s problems.

But the greater mystery is why this film had such a strong subconscious impact on our generation.   Why are so many haunted by the memory of it, but with a memory so vague that we can’t remember exactly where this memory came from?

A few years ago I wrote an entry on my personal blog about my years-long quest to identify this film.   I was surprised when this became the most-linked, most-read, and most-commented post on my blog.   My blog is mainly about bars and about walking, but this post has blown all others away:

The comments on the Internet Movie Database entry for this movie tell a very similar story of people searching their whole lives for the source of their strange memory about a witch making pancakes:

Have you had a similar experience with your memories of this film?  If so, tell us about it in the comments here or at my original blog post!

2 responses so far

Mar 26 2011

The HPW: An Illustrated Summary

Published by under Happiness,Pancakes,Witches

Nicky & Mom leave The City for unknown reasons. Where’s Dad?

As the story begins, a single mom empties her refrigerator and her son Nicky helps pack. They leave their tiny apartment in The City with only what possessions they can fit in their car, and drive to a small town with no living arrangements made for them.

Luckily when they arrive they find a shady realtor who is more than happy to sell them a haunted house for $400.

$400 gets you a lot of house in 1969, as long as you don’t mind a small witch infestation.

They’re only in the house for a few moments before The Witch appears, curious about these new people who have invaded her home.

I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little boy, too.

Nicky and his mom are not afraid, and inexplicably Mom agrees to Nicky’s request of “Can we keep her?”

Mom and Nicky fix up their part of the house, while The Witch sits in the attic spinning cobwebs and being all sad.

Before long Nicky and the Witch become friends, and chat about the good old days of Witchery.  It seems that since the world has become such a scary place, witches are no longer needed and have no purpose anymore.   Nicky suggests that she cook for them.   This gives the Witch an idea.

(*insert evil cackling laughter*)

The next morning the Witch (who shall hereafter be referred to as The HPW (for The Happy Pancake Witch) comes down to the kitchen to whip up a batch of blueberry pancakes.

“Eye of newt, toe of frog, LSD, tears of a virgin…”

Ignoring all advice about not taking food from strangers or witches, Nicky digs in to the cakes…

Hey, little boy, want some flapjacks?

Nicky immediately falls under the spell of The HPW’s laced cakes and gets really, really happy.

So happy, he sees psychadelic spots

Mom walks in at that moment and demands to know WTF the HPW has done to her son!


Thinking fast, The HPW realizes the only way out of this situation is to shove a cake into Mom’s face.

Mom foams blue at the mouth with happiness

Just then these two old bags show up to rag about what a crappy housekeeper Mom is. Their batty remarks are just about to wear off the happiness spell. Luckily Nicky knows just how to shut old people up…

The cure for catty old women


With everyone happy again, Mom decides to open a drug house pancake parlor to spread the LSD-laced happiness-infused joy.

Thank God the HPW won that old cauldron as second prize in that karaoke contest

Needless to say, the drug house pancake parlor soon became quite the neighborhood nuisance popular attraction…


Is this where you come for the “pancakes”?

…and Mom, Nicky, and The HPW worked hard to further contaminate the food supply.


With the local population placated and news of the Happy Pancakes spreading throughout the region, The HPW finally reveals to Nicky her evil plan. Once her pancakes make everyone forget the worries of the world and they are all happy, she will once again start scaring and terrorizing them all!

“Starting with…. YOU!!!!!”


One response so far