In the Little House books, Laura and her family frequently ate variations of cornbread, both while travelling in their covered wagon and while living in one of the many houses and places they lived. While cornbread is the most common way today that people eat anything made of cornmeal, Laura mentioned many other variations of it that they ate while growing up.
In addition to cornbread, Johnny Cakes from On the Banks of Plum Creek was a memorable one as it was served for special occasions. Laura and her family also ate corn dodgers in On the Banks of Plum Creek and corn cakes in Little House on the Prairie.
Pioneers ate a lot of cornbread for several reasons. First of all, cornmeal was a staple food that was readily available and relatively inexpensive. Corn could be grown in a variety of soil types and climates, and it could be harvested and stored for long periods of time. This made it an ideal crop for pioneer families who were often living in isolated or remote areas without easy access to markets or grocery stores.
Cornbread was also a practical food because it was easy to prepare. The basic recipe for cornbread requires only a few ingredients (cornmeal, water or milk, salt, and sometimes a leavening agent like baking powder or soda – or what Laura referred to as saleratus in the Little House books), and it can be cooked quickly over an open fire or on a wood stove. This made it a convenient food for busy pioneer families who were often engaged in hard physical labor.
Finally, cornbread was a nutritious food that provided essential carbohydrates and fiber. Cornmeal contains complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy, as well as dietary fiber that promotes healthy digestion. It was also a good source of B vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium. For these reasons, cornbread was an important part of the pioneer diet and remains a popular food in many parts of the world today.