How Does a Waffle Iron Work?


Quick Answer

A waffle iron uses electric current to heat a resistive heating element, transferring that heat to molded iron plates that cook waffle batter between them. A built-in thermostat maintains the heat for the proper length of time to produce crisp waffles, and an adjustable setting allows the user to select a shorter or longer cook time to adjust the doneness of the final product.

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Full Answer

The first waffle irons took the form of a stand-alone set of hinged iron plates. The cook would pour batter into the device, close and lock the plates together, and then use a fire or stove to cook the waffles by hand. This system made it easy to over- or under-cook the waffles, given variations in heat intensity and the possibility of user error. Later models were often built into stovetops, either as a permanent fixture or a device designed to fit over a pre-existing stove burner.

The electric waffle iron was invented by General Electric in 1911, although it took the company seven years to perfect the design and release it to the public. 1926 saw the first dual waffle iron, designed to produce two waffles at once.

In 1971, Oregon coach Bill Bowerman used his home waffle iron to produce a waffle-shaped slab of rubber. He applied this pattern to the bottom of a running shoe and discovered it improved his grip substantially. He would later co-found Nike, creating shoes with similarly patterned soles.

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