ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The History of the Waffle

Updated on October 7, 2015
Source

August 24th is National Waffle Day!

I love waffles, don’t you? And I love writing “The History of ...” articles. So, in honor of National Waffle Day, I am taking the time to look at the origin of waffles.

Where did they come from? Who first cooked waffles? How has the delicious, and wildly popular, breakfast treat evolved over time?

Let's examine the answers to these questions an more in this brief glimpse at the history of waffles.

If they did, they sure didn't have beauties like these!
If they did, they sure didn't have beauties like these! | Source

Did the Cavemen Have Waffles?

Probably not, although they did have something similar to what we consider pancakes (or hotcakes).

The Neolithic society was the first society ever to use agriculture as its main source of food. They'd cultivate, and then harvest, a number of wild plants. Historical evidence shows that Neolithic man made a crude version of a hotcake from harvested grains. They cooked these grain cakes on heated stones and flipped them over to heat both sides evenly.

During the Iron Age, men developed metal tools and iron plates on which to cook the griddle cakes. These made the cooking of the cakes much easier. Eventually, someone came up with the idea of cooking the cakes on both sides at once by placing it between heated plates, similar to how waffles are made today.

The Ancient Greeks Had Waffles

Or at least they had a form of a waffle, similar to what other cooks of the Iron Age were making in their "kitchens."

According to Larousse Gastronomique, the ancient Greeks made thin wafer cakes called obleios. These cakes were cooked by pouring a thick batter mixture onto one heated plated and then setting another heated plate on top of that.

I've seen some other sites that have suggested that obleios is the Greek word for "wafer." This, however, does not seem to be the case. It is much more likely that it comes from the Greek word obol, which was actually a coin that the Greeks used to buy these yummy cakes.

Source

Waffles in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Professional waffle peddlers called obloyeurs began to sell flat cakes made from barley and oats on the streets. These waffles were about the size of a small pizza.

During this time period, iron workers began forging the plates into the honeycomb pattern that we recognize today. Existing printed documents from this time show the Old French word gaufre (also rendered wafla , in the Old English) in use. Wafla was used to describe a segment of a bee hive.

The waffle quickly became a favorite food item. It was eaten among all social classes (athough the rich got the added perks of eggs, milk, and honey to flavor their doughy delights).

Waffles in Colonial Times

Dutch-style wafles came to the New World with the Puritans, who stopped over at Holland before making the long journey across the ocean in 1620. They may have been overly superstitious and hypocritical in their dealings with their fellow man (or women, especially), but the Puritans certainly did know a good food item when they saw it!

By the middle of the 18th century, English speakers in the colonies added an “f” to the traditional spelling of wafle , giving us the word we all use today - waffle!

Thomas Jefferson, French ambassador and waffle lover.
Thomas Jefferson, French ambassador and waffle lover. | Source

One of Our Founding Fathers Starts a Waffle Craze

In 1789, just as the French Revolution was taking off, Thomas Jefferson’s second term as ambassador to France was ending. After sharing some great ideas with the French revolutionary leaders, Jefferson made his exit and returned to the United States. He took two very important items with him, though: a pasta machine and a long-handled waffle iron.

The introduction of the long-handled waffle iron set off a national waffle craze. Everybody who was anybody began having and attending waffle parties. Attendees could top their waffles and enjoy them either sweet (with maple syrup or molasses) or savory (under a heap of kidney stew).

People who attended waffle parties in the South enjoyed their waffles with a hefty side of fried chicken, thus a culinary classic was born!

Cornelius Swartwout's famous waffle iron.
Cornelius Swartwout's famous waffle iron. | Source

First Waffle Iron Patent

Thomas Jefferson may have introduced the waffle iron to the States, but Cornelius Swartwout perfected it – and patented it!

On August 24th, 1869, Swartwout, a Dutch-American, received the first ever patent for baking waffles over a coal stove. He was sixty years old at the time.

In honor of his ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit, we now celebrate August 24th as National Waffle Day.

Waffles for Everyone

A little more than forty years after the waffle iron was patented, General Electric brought good things to life in the waffle-making world by manufacturing the first electric waffle iron. The waffle iron, designed by Thomas J. Stackbeck, had an internal, self-regulating temperature control that kept the machine from overheating and burning the waffles.

Very little has actually changed in waffle iron design since Stackbeck’s creation. Sure, waffle irons now have non-stick surfaces and super-cute design patterns, but the major mechanics are still the same.

GE’s innovation made the waffle iron a household item by the 1930s, and the waffle iron still holds a beloved spot in the kitchens of millions of homes in the United States today.

You Can Make Waffles in All Kinds of Fun Shapes!

The Current Best-Selling Waffle Maker on Amazon

In 2009, Eggo had to recall some of its products because of concerns with salmonella poisoning. Fortunately, the issue seems to be resolved now!
In 2009, Eggo had to recall some of its products because of concerns with salmonella poisoning. Fortunately, the issue seems to be resolved now! | Source

Did You Know?

Eggos were originally marketed as Froffles ("frozen" + "waffles"), but they had such an eggy taste to them that people started referring to them as "Eggos." The name caught on, stuck, and a food icon was born!

Frozen Waffles! No Iron Needed!

In 1953, the three Dorsa brothers (Tony, Sam, and Frank) from San Jose, California, introduced the country to a product that would soon become a cultural icon - the Eggo waffle. These waffles were already cooked, so there was no need for a waffle iron. All you needed to do was stick the Eggo in the toaster, and you had a delicious waffle breakfast in minutes!

Kellogg’s bought the waffle brand in the 1970s, along with Mrs. Smith’s Pies, in an effort to diversify its product base. It was definitely a wise move, if you ask me. And I don't think it hurt the wallets of the Eggo creators, either!

Kellogg's did a lot to promote the frozen waffles and enhance their image in the eyes of the American public. They were the ones who came up with the now famous slogan, “Leggo my Eggo!”

The Yummiest Waffles of All


In 1964, Belgian businessman Maurice Vermersch sold his wife’s waffle recipe to manufacturers at the New York World’s Fair.

These big, fluffy waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream were an instant hit among Americans and are still enjoyed nationwide today in a number of chain restaurants and even at home. Americans can now buy their very own Belgian waffle makers.

Belgian waffles are, admittedly, my very favorite. I love the lighter, fluffier texture - and even though you can top regular waffles with whipped cream and strawberries, too, it just doesn’t taste as good as a Belgian waffle.

I think I'll go make myself one of these treats right now to celebrate National Waffle Day. What about you?

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Sue 

      13 months ago

      My grandson recently asked me why waffles are called waffles.

      Thanks for the information.

    • workingmomwm profile imageAUTHOR

      Mishael Austin Witty 

      6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Thanks so much, Lisa!

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 

      6 years ago from California

      Great hub! I love reading about the history of foods! Thumbs up, shared and linked to my "Real Men Make Waffles" Hub! Have a great day! Lisa

    • workingmomwm profile imageAUTHOR

      Mishael Austin Witty 

      6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Thank you, Danette! :-)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      My boys used to love Eggos when they were younger. But to save money after my husband retired, I bought a waffle maker. Nicely done.

    • workingmomwm profile imageAUTHOR

      Mishael Austin Witty 

      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Doughnuts are good for you, eh? Gonna have to check that one out! :-) Thanks for stopping by!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent hub, wmwm, and very interesting history concerning waffles.

      I, too, am fascinated by the history of certain things including foods and have written one about donuts: "Doughnuts are Good fo You," and "Chocolate Chip Cookies - Seven Scrumptious Recipes."

    • workingmomwm profile imageAUTHOR

      Mishael Austin Witty 

      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      That is a really nice memory, Happyboomernurse. No, I don't imagine the Eggos would taste a good as Nana's. :-)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Fascinating history of one of my favorite foods. Eating waffles at my grandparents' house as a young child is one of my favorite memories.

      I also remember liking the Eggo toaster waffles as a child, but they didn't taste nearly as good as Nana's.

    • workingmomwm profile imageAUTHOR

      Mishael Austin Witty 

      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Hmm ... Never had a waffle with ice cream on top. Sounds like something I will definitely have to try. Thanks!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 

      7 years ago from United States

      What a great history of the waffle! To think that it all started with the cavemen.. We always have a box of the Eggo waffles in my house. I also love to have a Belgian waffle with blueberries and vanilla ice cream on top-yum! Thanks for sharing. :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)