National Waffle Day
National Waffle Day is an unofficial holiday which is celebrated annually on August 24th. It was on this day in 1869 that the first United States patent for a waffle iron was issued to Cornelius Swartwout. However, you don’t have to use this holiday to celebrate the invention of the waffle iron.
No, you can use it to celebrate the product which the toaster iron made possible – the delicious breakfast food with the characteristic honeycomb pattern that can be served in any number of different ways. This holiday shouldn’t be confused with Waffle Day – a holiday which is celebrated on March 25th.
The History of the Waffle
While a variety of different hot cakes made of cereal pulps were made for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the 1st century that the modern waffle began to take shape. This is when the Greeks used two large irons to make hot, flat cakes. The early hot cakes were savory and not usually sweet.
Around the 9th century, these early waffles would eventually evolve into communion wafers. However, these early communion waffles didn’t have the honeycomb patterns we expect waffles to have today. Instead, they had images of Jesus and his crucifixion or featured Biblical scenes.
During the 17th century, sweetened waffles were eaten by citizens of all types. However, the waffles that the poor could afford were dramatically different than what the rich could afford. Peasants could really only afford waffles that were made out of non-wheat grains that were sweetened with honey.
Royalty, on the other hand, could afford to eat wheat-based waffles that were sweetened with sugar. Fortunately, for the waffle lovers of Europe, sugar prices would drop drastically by the beginning of the 18th century. This allowed a larger cross-section of the general public to enjoy sugar-sweetened waffles.
It was also during this time that waffle production became primarily centered in Germany and German bakers developed and distributed a wide variety of different waffle recipes. Some of these early recipes were for coffee waffles and sugar waffles.
In the United States, Cornelius Swartwout patented a waffle iron that could be used on the top of a stove. It was simply two cast iron plates held together by a hinge, but it allowed for people to easily make their own waffles. This led to many street vendors selling waffles for a penny each.
Waffles continued their rise in popularity during this first half of the 19th century, but this came to the end by the latter half of the century. This was due to the number of desserts that suddenly became available thanks to the increased availability of beet sugar. People simply began to eat more of these pastries and candies instead of waffles.
By the beginning of the 20th century, many waffle recipes had begun to disappear and it seemed like the waffle was on the verge of extinction. However, this trend began to be reversed when a number of different manufacturers began to offer pancake and waffle mixes that people could make at home and General Electric started selling the first electric waffle iron in 1918. It would appear that waffles were saved from extinction.
Today, there are a variety of different waffles and thanks to the mass production of waffle irons, they can be produced in an almost infinite number of sizes and shapes. There are even novelty waffle irons in which people can make Star War’s Death Star Waffles, Charlie Brown Waffles, Mickey Mouse Waffles, Emoji Waffles, Super Hero Waffles and even Hello Kitty Waffles.
The History of National Waffle Day
While no one really knows who invented National Waffle Day, it is known that it is celebrated on August 24th because that is when Cornelius Swartwout patented his stove-top waffle iron in 1869.
Tasty Waffle Facts
- Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron to the U.S from France
- Waffles were used as the first ice cream cone at the World’s Fair of 1904 in St. Louis, Mo.
- E. invented the electric waffle iron in 1911 but didn’t sell it until 1918
- Waffle comes from the Dutch word meaning “wafer.”
- In 1953, Eggo introduced frozen waffles
- The Waffle House was founded in 1955
- The soles of Nike’s first pair of sneakers were made with a waffle iron
Celebrating National Waffle Day
The best way to celebrate National Waffle Day is to either go out and have some waffles or make your own. You can enjoy them in the traditional manner with butter and maple syrup or you can try one of the less common waffle recipes.
This includes waffles covered in chocolate syrup; chicken served on top of waffles; 3-cheese waffles; chili covered waffles or mac-and-cheese waffles. It’s your choice which of these you choose to celebrate this incredible holiday.