A scene from "Sweet Porridge" is depicted on this 1985 East German postage stamp.

"Sweet Porridge" (German: "Der süße Brei"; also translated into English as "The Magic Porridge Pot") is a German fairy tale. It appears in the 1815 second volume of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the anthology of German folktales compiled by the Brothers Grimm, and all subsequent editions of the complete anthology. Similar stories exist in the folklore of other European and Asian countries.

The two main characters in the story are a poor girl and her mother. The girl is given a magical pot that produces porridge and stops producing it when it is commanded to do so. Trouble ensues when the girl's mother forgets the words that make the pot stop making porridge.

The story has been retold numerous times and has been adapted for television.


A girl and her mother are so poor that they have nothing to eat. When the girl goes out one day, an old woman gives her a magic porridge pot. Whenever anybody says, "Cook, little pot", to it, the pot produces porridge. Whenever anybody says, "Stop, little pot", to the pot, it stops cooking. The girl and her mother do not have to worry about going hungry ever again. The girl goes out and leaves her mother alone. The mother commands the pot to cook porridge. Unfortunately, she cannot remember the words that make the pot stop producing porridge. The entire house becomes filled with porridge, as do the neighboring houses and eventually almost the entire town. Nobody knows how to stop the pot from making more porridge. When the girl eventually returns home, she says, "Stop, little pot" and the pot immediately stops cooking. The town, however, is still filled with porridge. People coming into the town have to eat their way through it.


"Sweet Porridge" is one of fifty of the Brothers Grimm's' fairy tales that the popular Polish-born German children's author Janosch parodies in his 1983 book Janosch erzäht Grimm's Märchen. In Janosch's version, when the girl and her mother no longer have to worry about food, they develop an obsessive interest in expensive clothes. They forget about the magic porridge pot until they see porridge seeping through the door.

A version of "Sweet Porridge" is read by comedian and actor Rik Mayall in the eleventh episode of the first season of the British children's TV series Grim Tales. The episode was first shown on the ITV network in the United kingdom on June 23, 1989.

External links

  • Versions of "Sweet Porridge" in German and English on Wikisource.
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