British egg supplier The Happy Egg Company has commissioned a Rube Goldberg machine to make pancakes that apes the kind of contraptions seen in the Wallace & Gromit cartoons (or the dog food dispenser in Back to the Future).

The Pancake-omatic takes a freshly laid egg, cracks it, puts it into a batter mixture, mixes it, fries it and serves... sort of.

Okay, some of it is a little fudged - there's a convenient cutaway of a happy Mrs Chicken in the middle for a start - but we still like the effort put into the project.

"The Pancake-omatic took a team of four design engineers more than 200 hours to construct and a further 100 to test," says The Happy Egg Company. "The device which will go on display at the Design Museum later this month, uses a wide selection of household objects including an old-style gramophone and an electric whisk and features a luxury nest throne for the hen to lay her egg in - we think it's the best invention to eat the most delicious pancakes!"

The UK tradition of Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday - is 12 February this year, and is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Christian calendar. It is believed that the pancake element came from the need to use up rich foods that could be spoilt before the 40 days of Lent - a period of fasting from foods that "give pleasure".

The Happy Egg Company specialises in eggs laid by free-range hens from farms it inspects regularly.