Waffle History

Waffle History

The body of Christ, given to you... was almost a waffle. Let me explain.

Though the concept of the waffle originates with the ancient Greeks - (who cooked a flat cake between two flat grids over an open fire) the waffle actually started to become popular in Europe as an alternative to the communion wafer that was being given out at monasteries. Matter of fact, bakeries started making really ornately designed waffles that depicted biblical scenes; often times they were given out at the conclusion of a meal to serve as a "final blessing" But, this idea never really took flight, so instead, street vendors started making them and selling them outside monasteries where people would congregate and quickly became a crowd pleaser.

Now. I'll spare you the Spice Road talk (anyone that has been around me for 4 seconds knows I love to talk about the spread of spices around the world), but the highlight is the Crusaders who went to fight abroad started bringing spices like cinnamon and ginger back to Europe. As the batter for the then waffle was starting to take form, the introduction of flavorings like those from the Middle East started showing up in batters and now the popularity of this food item really started increasing... Especially in Holland!

The Dutch were very fond of this griddled cake and started calling them Wafles. Wafelers started using rectangle plated instead of round ones and the wells (or pockets) of the plates started getting deeper. It is said that the Pilgrims discovered the Wafle in Holland and brought the idea to America.

In 1725, an Englishman named Robert Smith published a cookbook called "Court Cookery", and historians believe they can trace the addition of the second "F" to the waffle recipe in this cookbook.

Check out the recipe:

Take Flower, Cream, Sack, Nutmeg, Sugar, Eggs, Yeast, of what Quantity you will; mix these to a Batter, and let them stand to rise; then add a little melted Butter, and bake one to try; if they burn, add more Butter: Melt Butter, with Sack, refin’d Sugar, and Orange-Flower Water, for the Sauce.

*Sack refers to a type of fortified wine.

Now, there's more Europe stuff, but let switch gears and talk about how Waffles started in America. The Pennsylvania Dutch (who were really Germans) actually started the Chicken and Waffle craze! It is noted that in the 1600's they were topping waffles with pulled chicken and gravy. In the 1740's, colonists in New York (New Amsterdam) and New Jersey starting having "Wafel Frolic" parties. In 1789, our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson, loved waffles so much that on a trip to France, he brought back 4 waffle irons and started serving them to guests at Monticello.

In 1911, GE made the first electric waffle iron and industrialization of the Waffle in America took over, (sadly) -> we'll get to that in a few. In 1932, the Dorsa brothers of San Jose, California started making Mayonnaise in their parents basement. Their product was marketed as using 100% fresh ranch eggs and gained instant popularity. Wanting to break into other markets, a few years later in 1938 the brothers started making a waffle batter that they were serving up to local Californians. But as the 50's rolled around, there was a shift in thinking as the modern appliances were mainstream in peoples houses, and the demand for fresh batter was on the decline. The Dorsas' quickly reformed their business model and made a machine that could pump out thousands of waffles an hour that were then able to be frozen and distributed throughout the country. This new invention was called a froffle - the combination of the 2 words, frozen & waffle. In 1955, they changed the name to Eggo because of how eggy people said the cooked batter was. Kellogg bought Eggo in 1972 and well, the rest is history. Gross, Frozen, Flavorless History. Modern frozen waffles are so terrible they have to be topped and decorated with other flavorings, fruit, or pretty much anything under the sun to cover up the sadness you are starting your day with.

So Brussels Waffles what are they? Brussels Waffles started at the World's Fair in 1962 in Seattle, but it was 2-3 years later when the Worlds Fair came to Queens that launched the popularity. As many Americans didn't have a lot of knowledge of Brussels, the name was changed to the Belgian Waffle. There are 2 main types of Wafels in Belgium: obviously the Brussels wafle, but also the Liege waffle. The Liege waffle, in my opinion, is the superior waffle as the dough is yeast risen and it also has pearl sugar in the batter that caramelizes as it cooks. Yum! But at the end of the day, that's just my opinion. Below I am including two recipes and you can be the judge. Please enjoy the Liege waffle batter and a hybrid batter that has both influences of the Belgian Waffle and the American cousin. Of course, after your batter is prepared, heat a waffle iron to the Manufactures Requirements and you are off to the races. It's time to enjoy breakfast... again!

BTW - The modern Chicken and Waffle started at The Wells Supper Club in Harlem where Jazz musicians started coming at weird hours of the night after gigs, well after dinner and in the wee hours or the morning before breakfast. The chicken and waffle became an easy compromise of the two meals.

Back to blog