The Killer Pancakes of World War II

For 130 years, Aunt Jemima was widely known as a delicious pancake flour and syrup brand sold in supermarkets everywhere. However, the name had a slightly different connotation if you were in the U.S. military during World War II. That’s because in an effort to provide the anti-resistance Chinese fighters with an unsuspecting explosive weapon to use against the Japanese, U.S. soldier and chemist George Kistiakowsky developed a substance that looked like flour, baked like flour, but could also explode like dynamite when given the right accelerator. The pancake flour was code-named “Aunt Jemima” after the successful pancake mix. Although it consisted of baking powder and HMX — a strong explosive compound — its biggest selling point was that it was actually edible, though not recommended. The mixture was also highly resilient to premature explosion, which made it safer to transport. Throughout the war, 30,000 pounds of Aunt Jemima flour was sent to China, passing successfully through Japanese checkpoints without detection.