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Spiders were frying pans with long handles, and three very tall legs on them. The pan itself had a flat bottom and slanted slides. Some designs, though, had rounded bottoms, making them look like a wok on stilts.

They were designed to allow you to fry food over the coals in a hearth, without having to stand there and hold the frying pan all that time. They both held the pan an optimal distance from the direct heat coming from a fire, and in doing so, also raised the pan up away from floor level to make it easier to work with the food items in the pan without having to bend down so much.

They can't be used on modern stove tops, as the tall legs raise the pan too high above the heat source.

History Notes

They seem to have first appeared around 1790, as recorded then in an advertisement in the The Pennsylvania Packet.

The first ones were sheet iron with legs welded on. By the mid-1800s, they were made of cast iron.

Literature & Lore

"I wake from dreams of polar ice, on which I've been a slider,

Like fishes dreaming of the sea and waking in the spider."

-- John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 to 1892). The City of a Day. 1843.

Language Notes

The name is an Americanism. Sometimes the word "spider" is still used in some places in America to refer to a regular frying pan.


Aebleskiver Pans; Appachatti Pans; Appakarai Pans; Broiling Pans; Cast Iron; Chafing Dish; Crêpe Pans; Electric Frying Pans; French Roasting Pans; Frying Pans; Kanom Krok Pans; Meatloaf Pans; Non-Reactive Pans; Non-Stick Pans; Omelet Pans; Paella Pans; Pans; Quiche Pans; Roasting Pans; Sauté Pans; Self-Basting Roasters; Spiders; Wok

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Oulton, Randal. "Spiders." CooksInfo.com. Published 27 June 2004; revised 26 October 2007. Web. Accessed 03/23/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/spiders>.

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