Start singing the song “Do you Know the Muffin Man?” and it’s bound to lead to more questions. Like: Who is the Muffin Man? And where is Drury Lane?
The basis of memes, TikTok videos and the hilarious interrogation scene in the animated movie Shrek, “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” is unlikely to be — as some have claimed — a warning to kids about a 16th-century serial killer who lured children with a muffin tied to the end of a string. (What a creepy urban legend!)
Rather, this classic nursery rhyme, which was first recorded in a British manuscript in 1820, is most likely about the 19th-century bakers who went door-to-door selling English muffins, much like how milkmen used to deliver bottles of milk. Drury Lane, where the Muffin Man lives, is a thoroughfare bordering Covent Garden in downtown London.
When you sing “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” with your kids, sing together or try a call-and-response format where you sing the first four lines and they respond by singing the second set of four lines. Now that you know who the Muffin Man is, you can sing truthfully and honestly when you respond to the question, “Do you know the muffin man?”
O do you know the muffin man, The muffin man, the muffin man. O do you know the muffin man, Who lives in Drury Lane?
O yes I know the muffin man, The muffin man, the muffin man, O yes I know the muffin man, Who lives in Drury Lane.
This article was originally published online in July 2013.