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Jan 16, 2007 12:57 AM

Why is monkey bread called that?

Anyone know why monkey bread is called "monkey bread?"

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  1. Some theories from the Food Timeline:

    "Monkey bread became popular (by that name) in the 1980s, presumably because Nancy Reagan served them at the White House. The earliest mention we find for monkey bread in the New York Times was printed in 1976."

    - the bread resembles the monkey puzzle tree (sure ... I think not
    )- it looks like a bunch on monkeys jumbled together (nuh-uh .. give me a break)
    - monkeys pick at stuff and to make the bread you have to pick it apart (yeah, ok ... that seems reasonable)
    - it is more fun than a barrel of monkeys (sigh)
    - the fruit of the baobab tree that goes by the same name (well, who knows)

    1. I read something on this recently but can't remember where; will have to try to find it.

      Monkey bread was served at the Mariposa Room at Neiman Marcus in Houston ca. 71-72; it was not new to my acquaintances who took me there.

      A recipe is printed in Helen Corbitt's 'Helen Corbitt Cooks for Company,' published in 1974. (Corbitt was the head of the Neiman Marcus restaurants; she specifically states she didn't create it but doesn't say how long she had been serving it. The NM in Houston was brand new).

      1. I remember making monkey bread in 1970 for co-workers. In fact, they frequently asked if I'd bring it in.

        I know for sure it was 1970 because that was the only year I lived in Connecticut -- and I just took a look at the recipe card I made for it long ago, which also tells me I first heard the recipe in 1970 on a call-in radio show.

        However, the original name on the recipe card was "Cinnamon Clusters" and at some time I scratched that out and wrote "Monkey Bread." I have no idea when I did that, but I know that by the time my daughter was two years old (1976) she was helping to make monkey bread for Sunday morning breakfast on a regular basis -- and we called it monkey bread then.

        1. I always thought it was the "picking theory" listed above. Monkeys "pick" at everything, and you are supposed to just "pick" (or pull) the balls of yummy, cinnamon-y, caramel-y dough with your fingers.

          1. Hhhmmm... we always called them monkey balls in my family, so that brings a whole other theory to the table! Of course, this is also the same family that removed a carrot nose and black olive eyes from the snowman cheeseball's face and strategically placed them much lower! (Of course, I was not the instigator!! ;-)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Katie Nell


              I don't know you, but I love you already. This comment just made my day. I just about died laughing.