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Cockle-Bread


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In the 19th and 20th centuries, Cockle-Bread was a children's game in which one squats on its haunches with hands clasped beneath the thighs, while others grasp its arms and swing it to and fro. This action was often accompanied by a rhyme:My granny is sick and now is deadAnd we'll go mould some cocklety breadUp with the heels and down with the headAnd that's the way to make cocklety bread.

Earlier references, however, show both rhyme and action with a more serious purpose. John Aubrey (1686: 43–4) notes:Young wenches have a wanton sport, which they call moulding of Cocklebread: viz. They gett upon a Table-board and then gather up their coates with their hands as high as they can, and then they wabble to and fro with their Buttocks as if they were kneading of Dowgh with their A—, and say these words:My dame is sick and gone to bedAnd I'le go mould my cockle-bread…

Young wenches have a wanton sport, which they call moulding of Cocklebread: viz. They gett upon a Table-board and then gather up their coates with their hands as high as they can, and then they wabble to and fro with their Buttocks as if they were kneading of Dowgh with their A—, and say these words:

The dough thus kneaded would be baked and the bread given to the object of the young woman's fancy, which would thus ensure his undying love for her. Cockle-Bread is also mentioned in George Peele's play. The Old Wives Tale (1595) and Richard Brome's Jovial Crew (1652).

Gomme, 1894: i. 74–6;EDD, 1898: i. 685.


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