The History of English Muffins

the history of english muffins

Whether you prefer yours smeared with butter or jelly or use it as the base for eggs Benedict, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the soft but crunchy breakfast staple, the English muffin. Despite their across-the-pond name, English muffins are an all-American favorite with a history that dates back to the 1800s.

The back story behind English muffins is fascinating. Let’s explore English muffin history and origins, including who invented them, how they got their name and the differences between English muffins and crumpets. 

Who Invented English Muffins?

As you might expect, we have a British man to thank for the English muffin, though this tasty bakery treat was born here in the United States. In 1874, Samuel Bath Thomas emigrated from Plymouth, England, to New York and started making thinner, pre-cut crumpets while he worked in a bakery. 

By 1880, Thomas had caught the American entrepreneurial spirit, opening a bakery in New York City. Eventually, grocery stores and hotels were buying baked goods from him. Hotel owners bought them as an alternative to toast, and they gradually became so popular that he had to open a second bakery to satisfy the crowds. 

In 1926, Thomas trademarked his interpretation of a crumpet as the English muffin. However, the first known use of the term “English muffin” was in 1894, according to its trademark filing.

Thomas trademarked his interpretation of a crumpet as the English muffin in 1926

Of course, you can use various recipes to bake an English muffin, but Thomas’ original recipe is a closely guarded secret. According to the company that still bears his name, only seven people know how to make an English muffin with his method. 

Though a British expatriate invented English muffins, they are better-known in America than in Britain. Whether they’re savory or sweet, you’ll often find English muffins on restaurant menus in America, which is not the case in Britain. British people didn’t have the opportunity to learn about or taste English muffins until America began exporting them in the 1990s.

Where did English muffins originate? Thomas invented his famous baked goods in New York City — specifically, in the Chelsea neighborhood. If you can’t get enough English muffins, it might be fun to take a trip to New York City and stop by Chelsea to soak in the environment where your favorite breakfast item originated. 

What Do They Call English Muffins in England?

Do they have English muffins in England, Ireland and the U.K.? Because English muffins are an American invention, British and Irish supermarkets refer to them as American muffins. Other names you might see in British supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and Tesco include “muffins,” “toasting muffins” and “breakfast muffins.” So, if you’re planning a trip to England and you want to enjoy an American-style breakfast or brunch, head to a local grocery store in England and look for them under any of these names. 

English Muffins vs. Crumpets

Despite their name, English muffins are not technically muffins. They are much closer to an English crumpet. Sometimes it can even be a challenge to tell the difference between an English muffin and a crumpet because they are similarly sized and you can make either recipe in a cast-iron griddle on the stovetop. 

comparing English muffins and crumpets

Something else the crumpet and the English muffin share is their spongy texture that makes an excellent accompaniment to butter, jelly and other toppings at the breakfast or brunch table. So what is the difference between a crumpet and an English muffin? Let’s take a closer look. 


To make a crumpet, you’d pour a loose batter into a ring-shaped mold on a hot griddle. The batter then gets puffy, and small holes appear on the top. But that’s not all. Let’s explore the following features of the crumpet:

  • The traditional crumpet recipe calls for milk and baking soda. 
  • You only cook crumpets on one side.
  • Crumpets are flat on the bottom, with holes on the top.
  • When eating a crumpet, you would spread your topping over the top of it. 

English Muffins

English muffins and crumpets have a similar cooking method, but English muffins don’t get as puffy or thick. They are crunchier, especially on the outside, and the inside forms small holes when baked. These tiny holes, which are English muffins’ defining feature, form because Thomas did not use baking soda in his original recipe. While crumpets can lose their holes when sliced in half, English muffins preserve theirs no matter what.

English muffins are pre-cut, so people can pull them apart. This horizontal cut also makes the inside of an English muffin crunchier than a crumpet when you toast it. 

Ultimately, English muffins are drier and flatter than crumpets, and their tiny holes are perfect for holding all sorts of delicious spreads, such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, eggs, cheese and Hollandaise sauce. 

Let’s take a look at more features of English muffins:

  • The dough used to make English muffins is firm.
  • The traditional English muffin recipe includes sourdough or yeast, but no milk. 
  • English muffins come pre-cut. After toasting them, you can spread your favorite toppings on both halves.

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Get English Muffins From Gold Medal Bakery 

Historically, English muffins have been an American breakfast favorite. Whether your customers spread butter and jelly on them or use them to make a delicious egg-and-bacon sandwich, this soft and crunchy bread is sure to brighten their mornings. English muffins are tasty, low in fat and have many health benefits.

At Gold Medal Bakery, we manufacture and distribute the English muffins you’ll want to purchase, and we carry a wide variety. Choose from our wholesome selection of English muffins to find the best fit for your needs:

  • Original
  • Light
  • Premium
  • Whole wheat
  • Raisin
  • Non-GMO wheat
  • Non-GMO premium
  • Non-GMO original

Why choose us over our competitors? 

  • Our dedicated sales staff frequently visits stores and reviews orders with store personnel. 
  • We help out our non-competing partners by distributing products from them.
  • We have a 72-hour order adjustment window for our direct delivery customers.
  • We have a wide range of products for you to choose from for private labels
  • We’ve been in business since 1912, so we have the experience to help you with all your needs. 

Purchase quality, fresh-baked English muffins for your grocery store or bakery and provide your customers with an American breakfast favorite. If you want to learn more about us and what we can do for you, check out our delicious recipes or give us a call at 508-406-9366.

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