(Or How to Confuse, Amuse, and, Quite Frankly, Abuse, Your Friendly Neighborhood Postal Carrier)
By Catherine “Aunt Jemailspancakes” Cryan
1) OK, so to start, we have to let our minds to wander back to the good ol’ days, when there was mail. Not email. No, not voicemail either. (Geez, this is already going to be hard.) MAIL. You know, letters. Remember letters? Remember in the fourth grade when you used to scurry to the mailbox in desperate hopes of a letter from your pen pal in Brussels, your fingers reaching anxiously into the depths of the box, fluttering, until at last they felt the beautiful crinkling airmail paper and drew it out, so you could run delightedly back to the house to read it in your secret spot under the stairs, the joyful knowledge that you had a friend almost too much to bear?
Um, I mean, when you didn’t really care whether you had friends, but if some kid in Brussels wanted to send you a letter, you’d read it, and that was cool. Whatever.
So letters. In envelopes. With stamps on them. You remember.
2) “But wait!” you say. “Sometimes mail doesn’t come in envelopes!” You are correct. You are thinking of the postcards you got from Aunt Ginger every year until you were 18, when you finally realized she was not living a bohemian’s life in Key West all those years but was, in fact, in and out of rehab in Phoenix. Or of Auntie Flo’s yearly trip to Disney. Whichever works. But yes, postcards. Cards that you stick a stamp to, and post! No envelopes! A brilliant invention, I think we can all agree, because it brings us to…
3) … the single most important piece of information the postal service doesn’t want you to know: postcards don’t have to be made of paper. They can be made of…..(*sharp intake of breath*)… PANCAKES.
Yes, if you put the proper postage on a pancake,
the post office has to deliver it.
What a beautiful way to celebrate Lumberjack Day! (aka Sept. 26th)
4) A Brief History of Pancake Mail
While our photo archives point to its beginnings in a basement apartment in Astoria in 1997 (not taking into account the Greater Bronx Waffle Mailing of 1994), pancake mail really got its start at Camp Farnsworth in Thetford, VT, where Rebecca, a lifetime Girl Scout….
5) Pancake time! Mix up a batch and let them sit a while on a cooling rack. Overnight is good – until they get stale. It will be tempting to eat them beforehand, but you must refrain. You must! Step away from the spatula!
6) If you don’t know how to make pancakes, buy a box of Aunt Jemima Complete, the kind where you just add water. ‘Cause see, nobody cares how these pancakes taste. And who can say no to Aunt Jemima?
7) Be sure not to make your pancakes too big or they will require extra postage. Try to limit yourself to 3″x3″. Having pancake mail Returned To Sender is a sad, sad thing. That’s why we don’t put return addresses on them.
Be sure to wear the proper protective pancake gear to avoid batter splatter burns. We recommend SkidZ and heavy flannel shirts. Felt beards are NOT recommended due to their highly flammable nature and proximity to stove burners while cooking.
9) When the pancakes are stale, coat them with a thin layer of Elmer’s glue. A good technique is to make a glue puddle on a piece of newspaper and use part of a paper towel to spread the glue like butter. (Or, if you prefer, like buttah.) Or use spray shellac if you want to get all fancy-like. Make sure to get both sides as well as edges. Pancake mail can last up to several decades, but if not properly sealed, your recipient runs the risk of contracting a severe case of the creeping crud from pancake mold.
10) On a small piece of paper (slightly smaller than the size of your pancake) print a lovely, personal message full of warmth, goodwill, and glad lumberjack tidings to your recipient. Or, if suffering from writer’s block, use the lyrics to The Pancake Song (© 1997 Emond & Cryan, all rights reserved, all apologies hopefully accepted )
What do you do with pancakes
that have gotten kind of stale?
Think of a friend, address them one,
and throw it in the mail.
We really hope that you enjoy
this gift from us to you.
We only wish that we could send
some syrup with it, too.
Affix message to pancake with another thin layer of Elmer’s glue.
11) On an address-label-sized piece of paper, write the recipient’s address. Affix this to the other side of the pancake with yet another layer of glue. (THIN layer! What are you trying to make the cost of pancake mail go up?) Be sure to leave room above it for your stamp(s).
12) Stamp it! The going rate for pancake mail is usually the same as for a standard letter. $0.42, baby! However, if the postal worker who has to deal with your pancake does not find it even the slightest bit funny, they may maintain that the postage is really $0.58 for special handling. But honestly, the recipient can shell out the extra $0.16 postage due. You’re mailing them a pancake, for crying out loud! Even though the stamp(s) will stick, cover both sides with one more protective gluey layer, just in case. Yes, a thin layer. Now yer learnin’, boyos! (Say this last line like a lumberjack.)
14) Yes, we skipped step 13. Step 13 is bad luck. Don’t you know how superstitious lumberjacks (and other pancake-eaters across the globe) are? The world’s a scary enough place without bad pancake juju.
15) Once you have amassed a collection of pancake mail that is ready to be sent to your 50 closest friends (or more!) lug them down the street to the nearest blue drop box and stuff them in. If you have a couple hours, wait for the postal carrier to arrive and snap a secret picture of the look on his/her face when he/she takes them out of the box! The postal carriers love this! It’s the best part! Trust us! Just be prepared to run!
NOTE: Do not call them mailmen! It is non-PC and gender exclusive! So don’t do it! Under any circumstances! (They will steal your magazines! And pee in your azaleas!)
16) Go home and await phone calls/texts/emails from 50 said friends when they receive their pancakes. Some people may receive their pancakes in several pieces, after some distracted postal worker dumps them into the sorting machine with all the other standard-sized envelopes. They don’t fit so well because envelopes and postcards are flat and pancakes are, well, sometimes not, and they really need to be hand-stamped and –sorted. But the post office is usually kind enough to deliver them in one of those little clear baggies with a note that says something like, “Sorry, we busted your mail.” That’s better than no mail at all, right?
Also successfully mailed:
On the list to try next:
The possibilities are endless! Go crazy! Let that creativity flow out of you like syrup out of a….um… syrup-pourer!