Do you live in a waffle house?
Around the 15th century, waffles began to evolve. Basically, a mass was placed between two iron grids, some of which were quite elaborate in design, and was eaten as a sweet and used in religious ceremonies. The dough was often flavored with flower water and honey, cooked and served with more honey or fruit, and enjoyed as dessert rather than breakfast. Like the French, the finished product could keep for several days and travel well. It was first introduced to colonists by enthusiastic President Thomas Jefferson in 1789, who returned from France with the first known waffle iron to grace our shores (no invention went unnoticed by enthusiastic Thomas) who proceeded to enjoy and serve waffles at his dinner parties. State as a final dish, along with fresh berries and cream.
In North America, Belgian waffles (spelled with an “a”) are a variety with a lighter dough, larger squares, and deeper pockets than regular American waffles. They were originally leavened with yeast, but now baking powder is used. First exhibited in 1958 at Expo 58 in Brussels, Belgium by a European, they crossed the pond and were featured at the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle in 1962, served with whipped cream and strawberries. In the future, they were further popularized during the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. These waffles were introduced by Maurice Vermersch of Brussels, Belgium, based primarily on a simplified recipe from Brussels. He wisely decided to change the name to Bel-Gem Waffle early on, after noting that many Americans couldn’t identify Brussels as the capital of Belgium. (Even worse, many people would associate them with Brussels sprouts, America’s most despised food.)
For centuries, waffles were mainly consumed in the countries of Northern and Western Europe and there are many variations. Here’s a quick summary:
Tea cork waffle is a richer, denser, sweeter and chewier waffle; native to the eastern region of Belgium and alternatively known as game waffles;
flamingo waffles, golden flamingo waffles, are a specialty of northern France and parts of western Belgium. made with yeast;
American waffles – Generally denser and thinner than Belgian waffles, they are often made with a batter that is dusted with baking powder and served for breakfast;
bergische waffles, crispy and less dense, usually heart-shaped; also a smaller wedge-shaped version serves as a decoration on a frozen dessert or together with a cup of tea;
Hong Kong style: also called “grid cake”, popular street food in China;
Waffle Cone: These are recognizable by all Americans, thin and shaped like a cone while still hot, chilled and filled with ice cream;
Chicken and waffles – popular in southern and soul food cuisine, but also attributed to 19th century Pennsylvania Dutch cooks; they are still served in many regional restaurants and are right up there with chicken fried steak and other southern favorites; It’s not rocket science here, fried chicken pieces are placed on top of a waffle and doused in syrup;
In the early part of the 20th century, no kitchen worth its salt was without the proverbial waffle iron, often a popular wedding gift, and the preferred weekend breakfast of bacon or ham. In 1953, busy housewives put away their heavy waffle irons for good when “Eggo” frozen waffles were introduced, a great timesaver and quick breakfast, that you simply dropped into the toaster. To this day they are still a big seller alongside pancakes and French toast. In 2017 alone, 164.8 million Americans consumed all three, either packaged or homemade. And the popular restaurant chain Waffle House has sold 877,388,027 since it opened in 1955. So whether you prefer their quick version or as an elaborate dish topped with berries and cream, they’re readily available—no griddle required. Sort of a perma-press breakfast.