The Muffin Man story — The song’s origin discussed

Muffin Man

Children have sung the traditional nursery rhyme dubbed ‘The Muffin Man’ for centuries. It features the following lines:

“Do you know the muffin man, The muffin man, the muffin man? Do you know the muffin man, Who lives on Drury Lane?”

There are different variations of the songs, but they don’t deviate much from the original. The Muffin Man famously appeared in the first two Shrek films, with Lord Farquaad saying: “Yes, I know the muffin man. Who lives on Drury Lane?”

The origins of the song remain unclear. This piece details a fantastical and rather terrifying story about The Muffin Man. 

The Muffin Man was reportedly used to warn children about a serial killer of the same name

The Muffin Man was reportedly composed to warn children about Frederick Thomas Lynwood, aka the Drury Lane Dicer, a famous theory claims. Frederick was reportedly England’s first serial killer. 

The story claims that Lynwood was a baker who delivered parcels of bread, including English muffins, to residents every morning. Lynwood would make deliveries like other bakers before waiting for children to pick up the package. 

Frederick allegedly tied a muffin at the end of a string, drawing the child’s attention. He would then pull the string, prompting the child to run after the muffin. Lynwood would lure the children into his bakery before torturing and killing them. 

Frederick’s victims also included seven rival bakers he killed to reduce business competition. Lynwood reportedly murdered 15 children between 1589 and 1598. Children came up with the song to warn others of the dangerous muffin man. 

There are a couple of problems with this story. First, the timelines don’t appear to match. Bakers started delivering bread to residents in the 1800s, long after Lynwood’s alleged killing spree. Second, the theory claims Lynwood murdered with a wooden spoon, a weapon which, according to experts, isn’t robust enough to incapacitate a person. 

Furthermore, there’s no evidence that a serial killer named Frederick Thomas Lynwood existed in 16th-century England. You might find a mugshot of the ‘Muffin Man’ on the internet, but cameras and photography didn’t exist back then, so the image is definitely fake. 

According to, the earliest written record of the rhyme appeared in an 1819 manuscript dubbed Life High and Low. The outlet speculates that ‘The Muffin Man started out as a kind of trashy stage song performed in seedy venues.’