This man and child are eating pancakes as they cook, or hot and hot, rather than everyone being served together at the table.

A reader sent an email asking if I knew what a, “hot and hot”, was, with regard to food and drink. I was not familiar with the term, but I love a challenge so I set out to see what I could find. Hot and Hot is not any particular food or drink, instead, it means to serve food, or drink, as soon as it comes out of the pan. In other words, to serve pancakes hot and hot means to serve them as they cook rather than putting them all on a platter and serving them all at the same time.

From the Oxford English Dictionary, comes this definition: “HOT AND HOT: Said of dishes of meat, etc. served in succession as soon as cooked; also as noun for the food thus served.” As a noun, a “hot and hot” could be any food or drink served hot to each guest as soon as it was prepared, as an adjective it describes the method of serving the food or drink, – “Serve them the steaks, hot and hot”.

From a grammatical standpoint, the phrase is called a reduplicative doublet – a small group of idioms in which a word is repeated after the conjunction “and” when the repetition is intended to provide emphasis to the statement. A doublet is the use of two words with close meaning – like warranty and guarantee, a reduplicative doublet is when the same word is used twice. An example of the latter would be, “again and again”, or, “by and by”.

Below are some examples of how the phrase was used, and perhaps perusing them will shed some light on when and why the phrase, “hot and hot”, was used instead of just saying, for example, “Serve Hot,” as it would be today.

1771. “…and you will own I give you them like a beef-steak at Dolly’s, hot and hot, without ceremony and parade, just as they come from the recollections…”. Smollet, Tobias. The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker.

1808. Mrs. Rundell used the phrase with reference to serving mutton steaks, calves liver, and sprats. – Rundell, Maria Eliza. A New System of Domestic Cookery. 1808 and 1833 editions.

1812. In a poem about food that cooked itself, was found the following lines:
“Fish without frying-pans come hot and hot, And Dumplings boil themselves without a pot.”
– Pindar, Peter. The Works of Peter Pindar, Esq. [pseudonym]. Vol. 5. 1812. London.

1815. Louis Simond wrote: “Three successive beef-steaks were broiled under our eyes, over a clear strong fire, incessantly turned, and served hot and hot, tender, delicate and juicy.” Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain During the Years 1810 and 1811. Vol. 2. 1815. NY.

1817. Robert Brown’s collection of poems from 1685 and 1793 contained a poem about food in which was found a line about sheep’s trotters, hot and hot. Comic Poems of the Years 1685 and 1793 on Rustic Scenes in Scotland. 1817. Edinburgh.

1825. “In tippling purl, you drunken sot, Mull’d ale and amber, hot and hot…” came from the same source as these lines: “You’ve only to put on the pot, You’ll roast your pig, and boil your bream, And have your dinner hot and hot; So excellent a cook is Steam!” – The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal. Vol. 9. Part I. 1825. London.

1826. Christian Johnstone’s use of the phrase is perhaps a little more illuminating. “The coal fire was always in prime condition,–and short way between the brander and the mouth, Doctor,–served hot and hot—no distance between the kitchen and the hall; before the collop tongs had collapsed in the hands of the cook, in rushed the red-legged waiting wench with the smoking wooden platter.” – The Cook and Housewife’s Manual by Margaret Dods. 1826.

1830. “Dealers vended bread and cheese or squatted beside their baskets…oat-meal and groats for stir-about, or for griddle-cake; or cakes in reality, made from new barley; or old pease boiled soft and black, and kept hot and hot, for immediate consumption—a great rarity; and the last of the motley and picturesquely-grouped traffickers under the market-house, whom we shall notice, was a little and very old man, who dealt in the buying and selling books and pamphlets, generally as worn and as obsolete as himself.” – Banim, John and Michael. – The Denounced. Vols. I and II. 1830. NY.

1831. “We arrived in less than three hours, and in a few minutes sat down to a regular eastern-shore-dinner, of nice ham and chicken, potatoes and pone bread;–but what were these, good as they were in our eye, compared to the dishes of fresh fish, coming in rapid succession ‘hot and hot’ from the pan?” – American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine. Vol. 3. No. 1. Sept. 1831.

1832. “Serve up tortillas hot and hot”. – The Young Gentleman’s Book. 1832.

1833. “From a little corner cupboard she fetched forth cold meat; and when all her materials were ready, Rose spread a nice white cloth over her little round work table; arranged them on it; drew the table near to the fire where William sat, and finally took a seat opposite to him, occupying herself in supplying him, hot and hot, with potatoes roasted to a certain luxurious crispness, by careful and judicious turning on the fire”. – Banim, Michael. The Ghost Hunter and his Family. 1833. Philadelphia.

1837. Mary Holland’s receipt for Sprats reads: “Dress these the same as herrings, except in the broiling: which, if you have not a sprat gridiron, do as follows: when properly cleaned, they should be fastened in rows by a skewer run through the heads, then broiled, and served hot and hot.” – The Complete Economical Cook, and Frugal Housewife. 1837. London.

1842. “I will give you them like a beef-steak at Dolly’s, hot and hot”. Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. Will Waterproof.

1848. “Mutton-chops which were brought in Hot and Hot, between two plates.” Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son.

1854. “Here his vehemence inciting him to physical action, he began to walk the deck, with something of the mein of a rampant red lion; but still serving up to me concoctions of his wrathe, HOT AND HOT.” Hood, Thomas. The Choice Works . Page 66.

1857. “Pancakes should be served hot and hot to table.” – Traill, Catherine. The Canadian Settler’s Guide. 1857. Toronto.

1872 “They [pancakes] were served ‘HOT AND NOT’ with superb butter and other appropriate accompaniments,..”. —Chicago Tribune. 4 March. Page 3.

1885. “Journalism amongst our cousins lies under a supreme obligation to be swift and tasty. Its courses must be served up to the national table ‘HOT AND HOT,’ with plenty of condiments to give jaded palates a perception of pungency.”—The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, Vol. 26, No. 508, June. Page 320.