How fun is that? The nice people at Unique Belgique, who know a thing or three about waffles, sent me some interesting waffle factoids:
• Waffles got their start in the Middle Ages as wafer cakes or crisps made of flat bread.
(I’m picturing a knight in a suit of armor chowing down on a buttery waffle…the extra butter would have been handy to oil his suit’s joints. Mind you, I don’t know if butter was combined with waffles in the Middle Ages, but it’s a fun image, don’t you think?)
• Waffle cones filled with ice cream started at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904 when an ice cream vender ran out of cups and asked a nearby waffle maker for help.
(That 1904 World Fair was a high point in culinary innovation that has not been rivaled since.)
• Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron from France and held parties known as “Waffle Frolics” in the White House!
(Of course he did. Tom was a serious Francophile and he loved ingenious toys. But who wouldn’t want to attend a “Waffle Frolic”? I may start calling all my dinners “frolics” as in “Would you like to come over for a Pizza Frolic? A Peanut Butter and Jelly Frolic? A Leftovers Frolic?”)
• General Electric invented the electric waffle iron in 1911, making waffles an easy, at-home meal made from cheap ingredients like flour and eggs!
(God bless GE that really was an awesome invention. And in 1911 yet, when a lot of people didn’t even have electricity in their homes.)
• “Belgian Waffles” are actually an American creation! Based on Brussels Waffles, the U.S. version is denser and thinner than the Brussels version.
(I believe “English muffins” are American, too. And I know Danish—the kind with, say, cream cheese in the middle—do not come from Denmark. That’s good ol’ American ingenuity at work.)
• Waffles in Hong Kong are known as “grid cakes” and come in flavors like chocolate, honey melon and peanut butter!
(Chocolate and/or peanut butter: yes, please. Honey melon: I think I’ll pass.)
I remember my father telling a story about one of his co-workers who ordered waffles with ice cream on top. At the time (the early seventies, I believe) this was considered wildly eccentric. Now adding odd things to one’s waffle is par for the course. For example, I understand that chicken and waffles is considered a southern delicacy. I’ve never eaten such a thing, but in honor of National Waffle Week I think it’s time to remedy that. I’ll have a review later this week.
Until then, happy waffling!
Note: the folks at Unique Belgique sent me the info and photo for this post, but no money (or waffles) changed hands.