Fairy Bread

Fairy bread, in case you don’t know, is an Australian children’s party food.

Here’s how to make fairy bread: take white bread, spread it with margarine, and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands. Now cut into triangles and serve.


  • It has to be white bread. If you try to make fairy bread with wholemeal bread, or multigrain bread, woe betide you!
  • It has to be margarine, not butter. Butter may just be acceptable only if it’s the kind that is spreadable directly from the fridge. It may be that “margarine” means something different in other places in the world, so just in case, what I’m thinking of the butter-like spread made of plant oils that is spreadable directly from the fridge and can spread very thinly.
  • Hundreds and thousands are a kind of brightly-coloured sprinkles that are shaped like very tiny balls. If you use chocolate sprinkles, or sprinkles shaped like little sticks, or coloured sugar, then it’s not fairy bread.
  • It has to be cut into triangles. Don’t ask me why. Triangles are more magical than rectangles I suppose.

When I went to Twitter Math Camp in the USA in 2017, one of the lunchtimes I made fairy bread for everyone and passed it out. It was heaps of fun seeing people’s reaction to it, which was mostly good, though mixed with various levels of surprise and confusion.

For me, fairy bread is strongly linked to memories of my childhood, and every time I eat it I am surprised again at how good it is. I mean, it’s the stupidest thing: bread and margarine with sprinkles. Yet somehow all the more awesome for that.

And here is where I am supposed to make a point about maths or teaching or maths teaching. But that might ruin the whole thing. Like those horrible people who try to make fairy bread “more healthy” by using wholemeal bread. Honestly people! It’s a party food – just own it!

Actually this reminds me of people who are always trying to get me to make a mathematical moral to my play. Yes there are times when the mathematics people do is deeply meaningful or useful for solving real world problems, and there are other times when it’s just for fun and there is no other purpose to enjoy myself and spend time with good people. Sometimes I need to be left to simply enjoy it, thank you very much.

Oh look, I did make a point. I hope it didn’t ruin the experience too much.

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One Response

  1. As I’m sure you know, David, Dutch people love sprinkles of all kinds on bread, and for some reason especially for breakfast. When I was in the Netherlands a few years back, at a supermarket, there were (at least) two whole shelving units for different kinds of sprinkles. I do wonder if fairy bread was introduced via some widely-sold party-food cookbook a few decades back (edit: well, it’s at least 90 years old, according to !), where the author/compiler was inspired by this cultural phenomenon.

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