Celebrate International Waffle Day with Waffle History, Honey, and, of course, Waffles.
While many foods deserve international recognition, the waffle—glorious, multi-faceted, complementary, humble—takes the cake, er, waffle.
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Drizzled with honey? Drenched in syrup! Perhaps add some strawberry jam as a topping? Serve with hot chicken? Take two pieces and turn into a breakfast sandwich filled with eggs, bacon, and cheese? The World of Waffles is your oyster, though, we haven’t tried waffles and oysters, yet.
International Waffle Day is best celebrated by eating. Go pop a frozen waffle in the toaster or whip up a batch with Loveless Cafe Belgian Waffle Mix or send a waffle gift to your favorite Wafel Frolickers (see below). Now, you are ready for the history of waffles.
In ancient times, the Greeks cooked flat cakes (obelios) between circular hot metal plates. Fast forward a few centuries to Western Europeans adopting the hot cakes squished between metal trend, calling them oublies (wafers) and adding flavors like orange blossom water and honey. These ancient precursory waffles were composed of just flour, water or milk. It doesn’t sound very flavorful, yet the Oublieurs Guild was formed in 1270 to make these and other pâtisseries légères (light pastries).
Enter the 15th century, when the waffle truly began to evolve in crispness and shape. Rectangular irons with a large grid and squared sides were used instead of the traditional circular style. Pieter Bruegel's Het gevecht tussen Carnaval en Vasten is among the first known artworks featuring waffles. We are unsure as to why the bearded man is wearing waffles on his head.
Charles IX enacted the first waffle legislation in 1560 after a series of quarrels and fights that had been breaking out between the oublieurs. Were they fighting over whose waffle recipe was best or whether to add in blueberries?
Cooks began to have access to different ingredients during the Crusades. Soon after, spices, cream, butter and leavening agents made their way into oublie recipes. Heavy influence from the Dutch and Germans in the 17th-18th centuries led to oublies becoming a delicacy called the gaufre or wafel. Other spellings throughout modern and medieval Europe include waffe, wafre, wafer, wâfel, waufre, iauffe, gaufre, goffre, gauffre, wafe, waffel, wåfe, wāfel, wafe, vaffel, and våffla. (say all of those 5 times fast)
In the 17th century, waffles made their way to America! Wafel frolics (waffle parties) became all the rage, as waffles were served with sweet (molasses, syrup) and savory twists (kidney stew, chicken). These combos eventually led to the modern-day delicacy that is Chicken and Waffles, or in Nashville, Hot Chicken and Waffles. Thanks, Wafel Frolickers!
Street vendors began to sell hot waffles slathered with molasses or maple syrup as sugar and spices became widely available to commoners (as opposed to just the bougie). In 1911, GE made the first electric commercial waffle maker. Companies like Aunt Jemima (now Pearl Milling Co.) and Bisquick started marketing dry waffle mix. Then the game changer: frozen waffles known as Eggos were invented by the Dorsas brothers in 1953. Life was forever changed.
Our Favorite Waffle Trivia:
- A shortage of cups at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair inspired the waffle cone, when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups and sought help from the nearby waffle vendor for assistance.
- The world’s largest waffle is 8 ft in diameter and weighs 110 lbs. The monstrosity was made in 2013 by Stichting Gouda Oogst in the Netherlands.
- Patrick Bertoletti is the current International Champion for Waffle Eating after he ate 29 waffles in 10 minutes in 2007.
- Cyrus Wittig lost a Fantasy Football Bet in 2020, his punishment landed him in a Waffle House for 24 hours. For every waffle eaten, an hour was subtracted from his sentence. He managed to eat 12 waffles.