An old English nursery rhyme, "The Muffin Man", describes a door-to-door purveyor of muffins. The rhyme was known at the time of Jane Austen in the early 19th century, and a muffin man is mentioned at one point in her novel Persuasion. The muffins sold at this period were made of yeasted dough and baked on a hot griddle.
The name is first found in print in 1703, spelled moofin; it is of uncertain origin but possibly derived from the Low German Muffen, the plural of Muffe meaning a small cake, or possibly with some connection to the Old French moufflet meaning soft as said of bread.
Muffins may well originate as far back as the 10th century, yet the muffin became a fashionable bread during the 18th century. By the beginning of the 19th century, there were dozens of muffin factories in existence, and the "muffin man" was a common sight.
Muffins are a quick-baking bread and have become a tea-table staple. They are usually split, toasted, buttered, and then eaten with a savoury or sweet topping such as honey.