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Waffles for Breakfast, Pancakes for Dinner - and Legends of Waffles

Updated on October 19, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty collects various recipes from past generations and is interested in early American History, the Civil War, and the 19th century.

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Flat Food and Hopes that IHOP Returns

Long ago, we had IHOP in our city - that's International House of Pancakes. Late night TV's Craig Ferguson has said that IHOP is on the spectrum of technological gadgetry: iPod, iPadd, iHop, but he still loves the pancakes in their many varieties. I did as well, until the company left town.

You see, everywhere I've lived, except for recently, the stove top and oven have been off kilter or non-working for a time - and pancakes in a microwave just bounce. I've read the microwave cookbooks and tried the frozen pancakes in a box, all to no avail. Pancakes must be real and cooked on the stove top or even a grill outdoors.

That being true, I like pancakes better for dinner and waffles in the morning or at brunch. These two flat foods taste different, smell different, and have a different consistency - a little like Coke® and Pepsi® and I like those at different times of day as well. Overall, though, I like Lime Coke and Lemon Pepsi, but all types of waffles.

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Pancakes and syrup.Pancakes!
Pancakes and syrup.
Pancakes and syrup. | Source
Pancakes! | Source

Pancakes and Waffles

Ironing Waffles

A young child once asked me at a gathering why we have to iron waffles. That was very funny and we all had a good time preparing waffles that day in an educational yet tasty way. I remembered that not only did my father's family in the Midwest have some of the first curling irons around, they also had a few of the early electric waffle irons as well and the old manual types.

During the American Civil War, the American waffle iron was non-electric and made of two scored iron plates much like shallow skillets with a raised grid inside. You poured batter in one, covered it with the other, and cooked one side at a time over a fire in the wood-burning oven or even outdoors when the apple butter was being made over a large fire. When cooked through, you could put apple butter right on them, but syrups, butter, honey, and even homemade jellies were all used.

Rome's #1100 Old Fashioned Waffle Iron, Cast Iron
Rome's #1100 Old Fashioned Waffle Iron, Cast Iron

If you do not have an old fashioned waffle iron, this is a particularly good one. it works better on a gas stove stop than on one that is electric; and a campfire is fine too! Be sure to use oven mitts when handling the metal handles. This setup cooks more evenly than an electric waffle maker, and I've never been burned on it.

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Plenty to eat at Waffle House!
Plenty to eat at Waffle House!
Plenty to eat at Waffle House! | Source

Waffle Iron Day Is August 24

On August 24, 1869, Corneilius Swartwout patented the waffle iron. Waffle Week is celebrated in September.

Waffling Through History

In 2009, Time Magazine traced waffle history to the Ancient Greeks, who also used two metal plates together in an arrangement to cook flat cakes. The idea seems to have worked well and gained momentum through the centuries.

The researchers at Time reported that the word "waffle" comes from the word "wafer", which was used and still is central for communion in the Catholic Church and other denominations. Imagine a waffle as a big communion wafer!

A waffle industry grew up in Europe and I like the fact that the French formed a waffle guild to train street vendors in making and selling the best waffles. Chaucer even wrote about waffles in the 1300s in his The Canterbury Tales.

Some Interesting Waffle Misinformation

Where I must take issue with the Time report is the bit about Pilgrims trekking to Holland and bringing waffles back to England and then to North America. Truly, the people who became known later as Pilgrims did not have any flour with them and their grain crop failed as well. They learned about corn cakes from the local Indigenous People, some of my ancestors among them.

Other sources say that Dutch Pilgrims came straight to America in 1620, with their waffle irons and flour. These folks did not come to America. (That story was a marketing scheme by American merchants in 1840 to promote sales, sanctity, and a woman's magazine. It all led to a great big Thanksgiving celebration that many of us love today, however.)

In truth. a lower social class divided into "Saints" and "Strangers" did arrive in America, but with little food and no crop seed, but plenty of beer in barrels -- Definitely no waffle irons!

The Saints learned to make corn cakes and ground acorn flour flat cakes from the Eastern Woodlands Native Americans. They had pancakes! But no waffles.

Swedish Chef Makes Flapjacks His Way

Fancy Waffle Technology

An American patent was awarded by the US Patent Office after the Civil War, in 1869, to Mr. Cornelius Swarthout. It was for a cast iron waffle iron that was placed on top of a wood-burning or gas stove top. The iron plates joined with a hinge that swiveled in a cast iron collar. If you have ever used "pie irons" to make fried pies at a camp, you have used a simplified version of the 1869 patent.

Pan cakes, hoe cakes, griddle cakes, and flap jacks were easier to make on a griddle, in a cast iron skillet, or on a clean heated hoe blade (on plantations) over a fire, but waffles were more crunchy and fun and employed advanced technology that was fun. Cooks needed to take care not to touch a hot iron, though.

In 1911, General Electric received a patent and made its first electric waffle iron through the work of Mr. Thomas J. Steckbeck. The iron was a little hard to clean until Teflon® was added to future editions across more companies and cooking spray was invented. My mother had a waffle iron from the 1930s and it made good waffles. It took a bit of scrubbing to clean, but the work was worth the meal.

Oolong the famous rabbit was featured in the New York Times.
Oolong the famous rabbit was featured in the New York Times. | Source
IHOP in Orlando, Florida.
IHOP in Orlando, Florida. | Source

© 2011 Patty Inglish


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    • AlanDoughtyXIII profile image

      AlanDoughtyXIII 12 months ago

      Waffles are the go-to in my family when we just do not have the energy or the will to prepare dinner, and my mother mostly dines on waffles now that the kids are gone. I myself frequently make them when the weather is grim and I am depressed. I like them made from a fairly watery batter baked somewhat on the rare side. Thin batter and light baking gives the waffle that special melt-in-your-mouth quality perfectly complemented powdered sugar, Nutella, or German honey when I can afford it.

      It is even delicious on its own.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I am happy that a Waffle House is just up the road from me!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Now it's almost midnight ad I am craving waffles and pancakes!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      IHOP did actually return to my area in Central Ohio. We have four of them around the Outerbelt highway, but dozens of great Waffle Houses.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Neither waffles nor pancakes are widely eaten in England (except pancakes on Shrove Tuesday), that's why I love visiting North America to have both. I need a trip soon!

    • profile image

      jenubouka 6 years ago

      Ever heard of chicken and waffles? It is a restaurant that actually exists. Not anywhere around my neighborhood, but I gave it a try. Weirdly enough, yums to the yum. I have been on this pancake kick for about 6 months to find the ultimate recipe, I think I got it. Loved your hub, now you got me on the waffle kick. Got any recipes?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for this lovely hub and I love pancakes.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Pancakes or waffles with fresh strawberries for dinner is a very sexy dinner choice.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Waffles, Panckes, Crepes, I am a huge fan. It is not just for this confection that I yearn and hunger for though, but also the sides of bacon and ham and sausage, even a thick juicy steak, some hash-browns or some hime fries too.

      Yes Breakfast can definitely become dinner. As a matter of fact I'm off to the corner market to get all the ingredients now for a feast of pancakes and whatever else.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Interesting hub! I personally enjoy both pancakes and waffles for just about any meal.

    • profile image

      A C Witschorik 6 years ago

      Guess what I'm having for breakfast and dinner tomorrow, great hub

    • nightbear profile image

      Susan Kaul 6 years ago from Michiagn, USA

      I love them both too. It is usual around our house to have breakfast foods for dinner. But I know what you mean, it is a bit like Pepsi and Coke. Good way to put it.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      We don't eat much waffles here in Jamaica but we love our pancakes. I make mine from scratch. Our fast food establishments don't make good pancakes so home made is definitely the way to go!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub and information on two of my favorites pancakes and waffles, love it sometimes with butter fruit and syrup . I to do not like those microwave pancakes either. Loved the videos !

      Awesome and vote up !!!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I'm still spreading the news that quesadilla makers not only make great quesadillas, but they also make the best pancakes! Try it.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      It was time for some levity and anecdotes to make you and me both smile today. Glad you liked it, 'Look, Shiny." :)

      Maybe I'll send something to the local newspaper! But yourself - you sound like you could do a morning radio show for rush hour.

    • stanwshura profile image

      stanwshura 6 years ago

      I thought I'd be a little bored by the topic - as I'm a bacon 'n' eggs devotee myself (when I can so indulge). Usually it's one hand on the steering wheel during my A.M. commute, and the other back and forth between my mouth and a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats or Cracklin' Oat Bran! ;)

      Love your light-hearted and "six degrees of separation" kinda stream-of-consciousness treatment of this subject.

      You're definitely a writer who (if you ask me!) should be able to find an audience via a paid column of your own in any hard-copy newspaper. :)

      Not to imply a "less-than-serious" quality to you as a writer over-all. Just wanted to clarify that. Haven't read your other hubs - *yet*. Just wanted to say that this hub was easy to read (and I have informally changed my middle name to "Look! Shiny!").

      Love your "outside of the box" scope, that is yet stacked (sorry, couldn't resist!) with genuine factual meat. :)


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      J Burgraff - I'll look for that cookbook. I like th esound of the flax toaster waffles too.

      Thelma - Apple slices remind me of the homemade apple butter. I made it once and was overloaded in the sinuses with scent and cinnamon. But it tasted great!

      princess - glad you liked this Hub!

      Flora - Teeny tiny pancakes. That's a lot of work amod ringing alarms! The Swedish Chef makes me smile, no matter what else is going on. Glad you like him too.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I can't make good pancakes myself. Mom can make them, although not as good as at a restaurant. But at my place, the smoke alarm is extremely efficient and does not like when the element is on for more than a couple of minutes before it goes off-if even that long-if there is no food in the pan. and unless you want your pancakes to either be runny or burnt depending upon the temperature, any pancakes made at my place even by Mom have to be no more than 7 centimeters in diameter. If I'm making them, even smaller.


      By the way, I love the Sweedish Chef. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    • princess g profile image

      princess g 6 years ago

      :) Awesome

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 6 years ago from Germany

      Wonderful hub. I love waffles too.With ahorn syrup and sometimes with apple slices. Yummy! Thanks for sharing.

    • J Burgraff profile image

      J Burgraff 6 years ago

      I'm a toaster waffle (flax) with peanut butter in the a.m., and I like to make pancakes for others, but not to eat them particularly. It's not that I don't think they taste great, but I don't seem to get any energy boost from them. I do however have the very best pancake recipe and it is from Fannie Farmer's original cookbook. Simple and basic.