Flapjacks Became Deadly For A Handful Of Pittsburghers In 1940

The Great Pancake Horror

Larry Richert and John Shumway
July 12, 2018 - 12:23 pm



PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – A Pirate hold an All-Star record that is over 80 years old, the entire Symphony is arrested, Pittsburgh’s world famous dinosaur and pancakes killing people!  It’s what the Odd, Mysterious and Fascinating History of Pittsburgh’s John Schalcosky is talking about this week with the “KDKA Radio Morning News”.

  • Pirates Pie Traynor’s All-Star Play That Has Yet To Be Repeated

In 1934, Pirates Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor performed a feat during an Al-Star Game that has yet to be repeated in over 80 years. On July 10, at the Polo Grounds in New York City, Traynor became the first and only player to steal home plate during the Mid-Summer Classic.

  • Anniversary Of The First LEGAL Symphonic Concert In Pittsburgh On A Sunday

Before July 12, 1928, Schalcosky says it was very illegal to play music publicly in Pittsburgh. Since 1794 the “Blue Laws” banned any kind of public performance on a Sunday.

In 1928, while the symphony was performing on a Sunday, someone complained and the symphony was arrested.

“The entire symphony was arrested and the executives . . . were thrown into jail,” Said Schalcosky. “They kept the concert master, the conductor and the CEO in jail and everybody else got set free but it was only after a long legal battle that they actually won in court the right to play on Sundays and they ended up giving free concerts to the people on Sundays because of this.”

  • Pittsburgh’s Special Dinosaur

July 4 is of course our Independence Day but it’s also a big day for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. On that day in 1899 “Dippy” the dinosaur (more formally known as diplodocus Carnegii) was discovered. “Dippy” is famous because it was discovered with a near-complete skeleton. It was named after Andrew Carnegie in 1901 by paleontologist John Bell Hatcher.

Schalcosky says famous people from all over the world wanted to get their hands on “Dippy”, so Carnegie promised a plaster cast to those who asked. Now copies of “Dippy” are in London, Berlin, Paris, Austria, and many other places, but the original is still in Pittsburgh.

  • The Great Pancake Horror of 1940

Schalcosky says someone recently came up to him told him they remember hearing about people dying from eating pancakes. After some research Schalcosky found it to be true.

“At a local Salvation Army there was a kitchen where they were serving food and apparently instead of using baking powder, rat poison was used instead. Twelve people died instantly and over 44 became seriously sick and ill in Pittsburgh.”

Schalcosky says they were never able to find out if the poisoning was deliberate.

“The chef himself became sick and while in the hospital had no idea that other people were dying so they kind of gave him the benefit of the doubt,” said Schalcosky. “This was in November of 1940. By December though he was arrested and put on trial and eventually acquitted with no real proof or evidence to say it was a malicious attempt.”

You can follow Odd Pittsburgh on Facebook. When Schalcosky made his first appearance with us a few years ago he had 10,000 fans. He now has nearly 104,000 followers.

Follow KDKA Radio: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Listen to KDKA Radio on the Radio.com App - Download Now