This day started in Sweden, where there is a tradition to make and eat waffles on this day. The holiday is linked with the coming of spring.
Waffles are batter-based cakes rather like pancakes, but instead of being cooked on one flat griddle or pan, they are cooked between two metal griddles that often have patterns or fancy shapes. There are many different kinds of waffles—different batter recipes and flavors, different shapes, and especially lots of different toppings. In many countries, waffles are made by street vendors and commonly eaten hot on the street. In the United States waffles are generally eaten at breakfast. Some waffles are made into ice cream cones, and some waffles are served with hearty, savory toppings.
History of the waffle
Many different websites say that waffles date back at least to ancient Greeks, who cooked flat cakes between two metal pans. However, hinged waffle irons similar to ours today (but not electric!) were still invented a long time ago, probably in Holland or Germany, in the 1300s. Some of the waffle irons were very decorative—they didn't just have today's familiar waffle pattern, some had coats of arms, or religious symbols, or even landscapes. All waffle irons had long handles so that they could be put into a fire or onto a hot stove (shown above).
Waffles were very popular in many places in Europe during the middle ages. Street vendors found that hot waffles would sell—well, like hotcakes! Vendors came out to the church to make waffles on feast days and other church-going occasions, but at times they would compete aggressively with each other for customers. King Charles IX of France had to regulate waffles sales, making sure no two vendors were too close to one another.
Pilgrims brought waffle irons with them to the New World, and Thomas Jefferson helped make “waffle frolics” popular in American during the late 1700s when he brought a waffle iron from France.
Of course, nowadays, many people use electric waffle makers (show right).
Waffles around the world
- Early Greek waffles – topped with cheeses and herbs
- American waffles – commonly topped with sweet syrup
- Belgian waffles – traditionally dusted with powdered sugar
- Liege waffles (also from Belgium!) – with carmelized pearl sugar and either vanilla or cinnamon flavored
- Hong Kong waffles – spread with butter, peanut butter, and sugar, and folded like a taco to eat
- Scandinavian waffles – often made in heart shapes, served with whipped cream, ice cream or sour cream plus jam and sugar
- Stroopwafels (Dutch) – cut into two halves, then filled with syrup, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon – the filling glues the two halves back together!
- Norwegian waffles – served with brown cheese, or salted and served with blue cheese
Mr. Breakfast has 141 different waffle recipes, with user ratings and a handy top-15 list.
Of course, you can eat frozen waffles, too. Here's a way to make frozen waffles fancy, fun (kids love to dip) and healthy, too (the dip is fruit yogurt!).
You could have an entire waffle day, with waffles and syrup for breakfast, a waffle sandwich for lunch (put PB&J or egg salad between two halves of a thick waffle, or between two thin ones), and waffles with ham, cheese and fried egg for dinner.
Read Everything on a Waffle, by Polly Horvath.
Enjoy waffle patterns.
This tennis shoe shows that waffle patterns can be cool. What else might look good with waffle pattern?
Remember tessellations? Here is a waffle-pattern tessellation to print or save.
Do you know the waffle song?
Lots of people have made animations for it. Here's a pretty fun one.