Fortean Breakfast Story
by Loren Coleman
18 1961, three humanoids in a silver craft landed in Eagle River,
Wisconsin and gave Joe Simonton some pancakes. They didn't speak
English, and all communication was in the form of gestures.
wondered why they were called pancakes," wondered Bill Jacobs at Boston
University on the Fortean List recently, "as the one Simonton is
holding in the classic photo looked more like a pizelle to me. Did
Simonton use the term 'pancake' in his original statements or did that
characterization start with the UFO researchers?"
question was a good one, so I decided to look into it. There's a new
regional book out I'd just read entitled The W-Files: True Reports
of Wisconsin's Unexplained Phenomena by Jay Rath (Wisconsin Trails,
PO Box 5650, Madison, Wisconsin 53705; 800-236-8088; $14.95). The very
first story in the book is about a respected local man, Joe Simonton
and his "Pancakes from Space".
Let me review
briefly the evidence that stacks up (sorry, I couldn't help myself) in
favor of "pancakes" vs "pizelles"--whatever they are. Though being from
the Midwest, I must say "pizelle" is not a word you would have heard in
was having a late breakfast at 11 AM when some low, jet-like noises
disturbed him and he went outside. (He probably was "thinking" about
pancakes.) Seeing a disc land, hatch open and a nonthreatening being
get out, Joe apparently telepathically picked up a message to get some
water in a jug for the entity. Then, according to the Air Force report:
"Looking into the [saucer] he saw a man 'cooking' on some kind of
flameless cooking appliance." As Rath notes: "The alien was preparing
Rath goes on:
"In return for the water, one of the aliens...presented Simonton with
three [actually four--LC] of the pancakes, hot from the griddle....Each
of the pancakes was roughly 3 inches in diameter and perforated with
small holes....Simonton ate one of the pancakes....'It tasted like
cardboard,' he told the Associated Press."
Allen Hynek was dispatched by the US Air Force to investigate. He took
one of the pancakes away for government analysis at the Air Force
Technical Intelligence Center. They found them to be made from flour,
sugar and grease. Rath writes: "It was rumored, however, that the wheat
in the pancake was of an unknown type."
in his High Strangeness: UFOs from 1960 through 1979: The UFO
Encyclopedia, Volume 3 (Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1996) gives a more
detailed rundown of the Joe Simonton case under "Eagle River CE3" on
pages 168-175. Clark's comprehensive report on the case does not talk
about anything but how the objects were seen as "pancakes." The FDA who
also analyzed one of the objects called them all "pancakes". Clark also
does note the "pancakes" were "still hot" when Simonton bite into one
Air Force verdict for the Simonton Pancake Incident: "Unexplained."
Jerry Clark basically concurred: "There was, and is, no evidence to
suggest that Joe Simonton cooked up--in the literal sense--a bogus UFO
story." Which I guess is my way of saying, from my reading of this very
intriguing case, they were "pancakes." However, in an attempt to be
"balanced," it is interesting the good Bill Jacobs would use the phrase
"pizelle" as Simonton said the aliens looked "Italian-looking". Hummm.
time to go have breakfast, I think I'll have....English muffins and
tea. While being a Midwesterner, no one said we couldn't be civilized,
now and then.