A heated metalic press-like device that bears a distinctive raised-cubes pattern on the face of the press. A mixture of flour, leavening, eggs, and oil is poured onto the lower half of the press, then the upper half is folded down until the resulting quick-bread mixture is baked to a delicate brown color. The resulting waffle is enjoyed with butter, syrup, and often various fruits.

According to the instruction manual of my ancient WWI-era waffle iron, you can also use the iron to cook some meats, make toast, and even do some light baking.

It is commonly said that the Nike company started their product line after the founder put a piece of rubber into a waffle iron, and thought the resulting waffle pattern would make good soles on shoes.

The American Heritage® Dictionary** defines waffle iron as an appliance having hinged indented plates that impress a grid pattern into batter as it bakes. I define waffle iron as a wonderful small appliance to own. In addition to baking waffles (that wonderful, fluffy breakfast treat) you can also do toasted sandwiches or cookies.

The original waffle irons were made of cast iron and were crafted for use in a coal stove. All waffle irons possess a grid like pattern. This creates small pockets on the waffle so syrup does not run off. Irons come in a variety of shapes with the most popular being round, square, or heart.

Early waffle irons were made with either aluminum or cast iron plates. The first patent was issued for a waffle iron on August 24, 1869. It was invented by Cornelius Swarthout of New York.

With the advent of electicity it was only a matter of time before someone invented the electric waffle iron. Both sides of the iron are heated, thus evenly cooking the waffles. In 1966 Toastmaster® debuted model #W252. This model of waffle iron remained in their product line up until 1997. Since the late 1960s non-stick surfaces have been used for these irons. This makes for a much easier clean up process.

A batter, not unlike pancake batter, is poured onto the iron and the lid closed. The brand and size of iron will determine the length of time necessary for the waffle to cook through. The waffles are then carefully removed and served with any desired toppings.

During the 1970's it was popular for waffle irons to have removable plates. You could choose from specific grid patterns, or use a flat plate for making toasted or grilled sandwiches. The plates were fully washable, while the appliance itself was non-immersible.

Some of the most popular brands of waffle iron are:

  • Chef'sChoice® $70.00, non-stick plates, round or heart shaped
  • Cuisinart® $40+, non-stick plates, 2 or 4 square models available
  • VillaWare® $40+, non-stick plates, 2 or 4 square, round or square shaped

It should also be noted that stove top irons are still widely sold. Though marketed for camping, they can also be used on a stove. They sell for approximately $40 and are generally made of cast aluminum.

**The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.

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