Waffles: Know The History Of Everyone's Favourite Treat

The history of waffles spans over four millennia, with its origins dating back to around 4,000 years ago. Initially, hot cakes were cooked on heated stones or iron plates, evolving over time to become the waffles we know today. In ancient Greece, Athenians prepared flat cakes known as obelios between metal plates, while in the 1200s, cooking irons were designed to cook batter over an open fire. The term "waffle" originated from the old French word "guafre," later modified to "wafla" in Old English. Over time, the British added a second "f," resulting in the modern spelling. 

During the Middle Ages, waffles were associated with religious practices, particularly with Communion wafers during Christian fasts. The Catholic Church served waffles alongside Communion wafers, often adorned with religious symbols. Beyond religious settings, waffles were enjoyed by all sections of society, cooked by street vendors on open fires with iron plates. While peasants made simple flour and water batter, the privileged classes enhanced theirs with eggs, milk, and honey. 

The Netherlands played a significant role in shaping the modern waffle, introducing a rectangular shape instead of the circular one. Waffles gained popularity in the United States through the Pilgrims in 1620 and later received a boost in the 1800s with Thomas Jefferson's purported introduction of a waffle iron from France. The invention of the first waffle iron patent in the US in 1869 by Cornelius Swarthout marked a significant milestone, leading to the celebration of National Waffle Day. 

Innovation continued with the invention of the first commercial electric waffle iron in 1911 and the introduction of instant waffle mix in the mid-1930s. Belgian waffles made their debut at the New York World's Fair in 1964, showcasing Maurice Vermersch's wife's Brussels waffle recipe. The family maintained authenticity by serving the waffles with powdered sugar, strawberries, and whipped cream, as per the Belgian tradition. 

Today, waffles remain a beloved dish globally, offering versatility in flavour and toppings. From classic plain waffles to chocolate, red velvet, and cheesecake variations, the possibilities are endless. A simple recipe allows enthusiasts to recreate this timeless favourite at home, enjoying its crispy exterior and fluffy interior with a variety of sweet or savory accompaniments.