The Myth Behind the Gard: Kolobok

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

Fantastic write up on the origins of the Kolobok, everyone’s favorite card to hate, with a short story (and maybe a deck?) afterwards by Badaim (TESL4EVER).

The Kolobok is the main character in a number of fairy tales from Slavic, German, and Nordic traditions. The Kolobok's name is believed to be derived from a fusion of root words that describe a variety of round regional pastries like dumplings, donuts, and pancakes.

The stories themselves all follow a common plot that is most recognizable to English speaking audiences by its derivative: 'The Gingerbread Man', which first entered American Literature in 1875 (although the origin of the Kolobok tale is believed to be much older, possibly as old as 2000 B.C.).

In most tellings, the Kolobok magically comes to life and escapes by bouncing or rolling away from its elderly creators. After its initial escape, the Kolobok encounters a variety of animals that it proceeds to outwit to avoid being eaten. The Kolobok then usually sings a song to each that lauds its own elusiveness. The stories end when a clever animal manages to trick the Kolobok and eats it. The ending of the German version is distinct in this regard, as it has the Kolobok give itself up to be eaten by two starving children instead.

The Kolobok has since regained relevance in our modern era with the advent of emojis. 'Kolobok Smiles' is the official name for the various smiley emoticons in the ICQ cross-platform client used by a number of instant messaging services.

For all you culinarily adventurous battle chefs out there, I've included a few links below for recipes to make your own Kolobok at home! Bake at your own risk, as we claim no responsibility for any magical mishaps!

Swedish Kroppkakor dumplings

Russian Kolobki cheese donuts

Ukranian Kulebyaka pie

Polish Kolobok raisin cake

Czech Koblihy jelly donuts

German Pannekoeken pancake pie

Norwegian Pannekaken pancakes

And, it’s story time.

Penny and the Kolobok

'No Penny! Shoo!' Penny eagerly wiggled her nubby corgi tail as she looked up at Jenarieve briskly whisking away in her cluttered kitchen.

'Ugh, this recipe is so confusing! Why did namma have to run it through so many translators?' Jenarieve tried to brush away one of her rebellious locks with her shoulder while cradling the mixing bowl, but only succeeded in wiping flour onto her cheek.

'Is this even right?! How am I supposed to make the dough runny and crumbly?!' Jenarive puffed a jet of flustered air up at her rampant cowlick that teased her face as she squinted at the glowing letters that hovered above her tablet.

'Why is sugar listed twice, or is one supposed to be salt? Whatever, I'll just do both.' Penny tilted her head quizzically at Jenarive as she dumped in the ingredients before letting out a supportive yip.

'Not now Pen, Yanathan is on his way over and this needs to get in the oven to get...fried? Well which one is it? Can you oven-fry something?' Kator trotted into the kitchen with his sharp black ears perked to the commotion.

What's with mom? Kator licked his drooly chops as his tail whipped in anticipation.

No idea, but it smells delicious! Penny panted as she looked over her shoulder and released an anxious yawn.

'The title says it a pancake, but then the recipe itself switches between calling it a dumpling or a just says "make round." round like a ball or flat round!?' Jenarieve bit at her lip as she looked at the time.

'And this last part: "Achtyong! do not no fairy dust before sprinkle unless you/it want rolling"? Does that mean "attention" or "danger"? Am I supposed to add the fairy dust afterwards then? Do I want rolling?' Jenarive shrugged and shook her head as she poured the lumpy batter into the greasy mold and shoved it into the oven.

'Just my luck, I'm out of fairy dust! Ok guys, I'm going to have to run to Shyft Stahp real quick, hopefully it's still phased in. Be good, ok?' Jenarieve grabbed her bag as she ran out the door, leaving Penny and Kator in an abrupt silence that was pierced only by the errant tick of the warming oven.

She coming back? Kator scratched at the locked doggie door as he let out a confused whimper.

She always comes back. Chance sighed from atop his fluffy pillow. The old dog's golden tail swept the floor listlessy as he rolled over onto his other side.

*tic...tic, tic...bang* Penny's ears shot up. A low growl rumbled cautiously from her gullet as she paced around the oven. She could see the dough rising ominously from the pan through the small glowing window.

It's just the thing. Chase huffed dismissively, but his wise white whiskers still twitched instinctively at the accumulating aroma.

*tic, tic...bang...tic...BANG!* This wasn't just the oven heating, Penny was sure of it. She could see the dough throb from inside the oven, almost like it was breathing. As the dough puffed larger and larger it started to press upon the oven door, covering the window. The banging got louder and more frequent as the oven door rattled against the building pressure. Penny stepped back with growing apprehension as whatever was in the oven seemed to be taking on a life of its own.


'Hot stuff comin' through!' The oven door clattered open as the puffy mass hopped out with a squishy bound. Jenarieve had baked all kinds of stuff before: cakes, muffins, scones, croissants; never with much success, but this...thing was different. It had crooked teeth encased within a crusty grin that matched its crispy complexion. Its bulbous nose seemed to sneer at it's own scent as its furrowed brow gave off an air of malicious mischief. Penny was far too astounded

*Wuhh! whuuu! whuu!* Kator burst into the kitchen with a chain of bellowing barks. His claws clattered frantically as he slid across the linoleum floor.