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Farquaad is interrogating Gingerbread Man:

Gingerbread Man: You are a monster.

Farquaad: I'm not the monster here. You are. You and the rest of that fairy tale gang, poisoning my perfect world. Now, tell me! Where are the others?

Gingerbread Man: Eat me! (spits on his face)

Farquaad: (cleaning his face) I've tried to be fair to you creatures. Now my patience has reached its end! Tell me or I'll...(he makes as if to pull off the Gingerbread Man's buttons)

Gingerbread Man: No, no, not the buttons. Not my gumdrop buttons.

Farquaad: All right then. Who's hiding them?

Gingerbread Man: Okay, I'll tell you. Do you know the Muffin Man?

Farquuad: The Muffin Man?

Gingerbread Man: The Muffin Man.

Farquaad: Yes, I know the Muffin Man, who lives on Drury Lane?

Gingerbread Man: Well, she's married to the Muffin Man.

Farquaad: (surprised) The Muffin Man?

Gingerbread Man: The Muffin Man!

Farquaad: (to himself) She's married to the Muffin Man.

Farquaad had asked Gingerbread Man about the rest of the fairy tale gang and their hiding place (The person who has hidden them). Why did Gingerbread Man answer "She's married to the Muffin Man"? And why did Farquaad forget his main question and surprised after hearing the new information? Also, who is this "she" here, actually?

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    As @Oldpadawan says below, it's a nursery rhyme. I saw the stage show on the Theatre Royal in London's West End some years ago. The line, "who lives in on Drury Lane?" got a big laugh. The Theatre Royal literally is in Drury Lane... Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 12:28

3 Answers 3

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Who's hiding them?

Do you know the Muffin Man?

She's married to the muffin man.

It's not really easy to 'translate' the joke, but the The Muffin Man is a nursery rhyme/game where you always (more or less) repeat the same sentence. And, at the end, you're still at the beginning, singing the same thing.

I understand that joke as: "keep asking the same question and keep listening to the same answer, you'll fall asleep before you get the answer".

There's no "she" per se. It's a way to deflect the question by having Farquaad come into the repeating game. For eight sentences in a row (the ones you picked as excerpt), they say "Muffin Man" and that doesn't lead Farquaad anywhere but forgetting his own question...

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  • Very much in the vein of "Stop stalling! / Stalling? / yes stalling" youtu.be/84lCal8IC88?t=11
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 2:50
  • It is interesting to note that the French translation gives something completely different: “- D'accord, j'avoue tout. Connaissez- vous... Le garde champêtre? - Le garde champêtre? - Le garde champêtre. - Oui, le fameux garde champêtre... Celui qui pue, qui pète? - Oui... Celui qui prend son tutu pour une voilette. […]”, which comes from a children ditty. “garde champêtre” means “country guard” – there is none in the movie, AFAIR.
    – Didier L
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 6:54
  • @DidierL : there are many variations of that rhyme, with very different themes I believe.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 7:07
  • Just in English: 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm' -- 'The Dinosaur Stomp' - 'Where is Thumbkin?' -- 'This Little Piggy' -- 'Do as I’m Doing'... etc... I'm pretty sure other languages and cultures have dozens of them too, because they have children too :) These annoying/repeating songs lead nowhere but teach sounds/gestures and help keep kids busy. As a scout, how many songs during a long walk? Like: 'I'm just singin', one mile walkin' is annoyin', one mile walkin' is tirin', 'I'm just singin'', then, the following folk sings the same tune with '2 miles', the next '3 miles'... and repeat!
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 11:29
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    Do you know the Muffin man The Muffin man, the Muffin man Oh, do you know the Muffin man Who lives down jewellery lane? Oh yes, we know the Muffin man The Muffin man, the Muffin man Oh yes, we know the Muffin man Who lives down jewellery lane Oh, we all know the Muffin man The Muffin Man, the Muffin man Oh, we all know the Muffin man Who lives down jewellery lane
    – Yakk
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 14:41
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The gingerbread man is stalling and pretending to have broken. He's hoping that by 'giving up' a fictitious name and place, that Farquad will investigate that before coming back to him, buying his friends time. Presumably his next step would have been to reveal that the Muffin Man's wife knows someone who knows someone who might know something useful.

When they bring in the magic mirror, Gingy suddenly reveals that he was merely pretending to cooperate.

FARQUAAD: Magic mirror...

GINGERBREAD MAN: Don't tell him anything! (Farquaad picks him up and dumps him into a trash can with a lid.) No!


The film's Complete Guide verifies that he had no intention of actually giving Farquaad anything useful.

The Gingerbread Man may look soft and sweet, but in fact he is one tough cookie! When the chocolate chips arc down, he’s ginger-bred to be a sweet friend who can always be relied on! Whether being tortured by Lord Farquaad or threatened by Captain Hook, Gingy never gives his friends and fellow fairytale creatures away!

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    while correct you definitely missed the joke, explained in the other answer
    – Mike M
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 10:32
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    It wasn't a fictitious name. We know this from Shrek 2. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 20:34
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I think I have reached an answer to my question.

Gingerbread Man mentions the Muffin Man in order to mention his wife as the person who has hidden the fairy tale creatures. But Farquuad foolishly surprised to hear Muffin Man is married instead of asking for more information about that woman.

But it turns to be a lie, as the creatures took refuge in Shrek's swamp.

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    Not my DV. But with all due respect, I think you entierly missed the joke here...
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 20:35
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    This is indeed the right answer. While it doesn't attempt to explain the joke, it clarifies the confusing conversational turn by correctly identifying that "she" has an implicit referent as the answer to the "who" question. I suggest you accept the answer and move on before the hnq status leads to a pile-on of people missing the point of what you were asking. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 5:41
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    If this was the answer you were looking for, you should have asked the question on English Language Learners instead, because then your question is about English and grammar, not a movie plot. The fact that ‘she’ refers to ‘the person who is hiding them’ is obviously to a native English speaker and doesn’t have anything to do with it being a movie. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 9:35
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    @Valorum, Ditto what others have said here. The joke is the reason. Sometimes the out-of-universe explanation of why somebody said or did something in a movie—especially in a comic movie—is the only explanation. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 10:54
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    @TannerSwett Fair point – obviousness to English speakers wasn’t really a relevant point to make. But the fact that the question boils down to, “What does this sentence mean?” rather than “What is the significance of the Muffin Man within the narrative of the movie?” still makes this a question about English, not about the movie. You don’t really need to know whether something is obvious to a native speaker to know whether you’re looking for the meaning of a sentence or a movie plot. Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 11:44

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