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Nike’s Co-Founder Used His Wife’s Waffle Iron To Make A Lightweight Sole That Grips The Surface

waffle iron day

Waffle lovers finally have their day of recognition on June 29, which is the day National Waffle Iron Day is observed.  Some people enjoy their waffles plain with syrup, but others like theirs topped with berries, whipped cream, and syrup.

Waffle irons got their start in the 14th century in the Low Countries (Northwestern Europe) which includes Belgium and the Netherlands as well as other places. Even the earliest designs that were used over an open fire would have elaborate designs such as coats of arms and religious symbols.

The origin of the waffle iron can be traced back to the middle ages, where they were developed from a device known as the ‘wafer iron’. These were commonly used in the creation of the communion wafer, but larger varieties existed, consisting of nothing more than two flat irons often engraved with elaborate scenes. For the communion wafer, it was depictions of the crucifixion of Christ. While the larger secular designs varied widely, often engraved with artistic floral designs, illumination, or just about any other form of design you could imagine.

Later, during the 17th and 18th centuries, they were developed further by the Dutch. Sugar was particularly precious at that time, sometimes catching as much as a half an ounce of silver for a kilogram of sugar. During this time the mestiers were particularly popular among the rich, being made of only the finest ingredients, and sweetened with the precious sugar.

The first patent in the USA for a waffle iron was in 1869, submitted by Cornelius Swarthout.  In 1911, General Electric produced a prototype electric waffle iron.  The first electric waffle iron was available to the general public in 1918.

One of the most popular uses of waffles came about seemingly by accident, allegedly created by George Bang at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Bang had run out of bowls to give out with his Banner Creamery Ice Cream, and started giving out rolled up waffles to use instead. It’s alleged because there are other origin stories as well, including a Belgium gent from Ghent, who moved to Norfolk, Virginia, and decided that a rolled up Waffle was the perfect place to put a scoop of ice-cream!

Nike Co-Founder Bill Bowerman, an Oregon Track Coach at the time, used his wife’s waffle iron to create a sole for footwear that would be light weight but also grip a surface.  This design would soon be called the “Moon Shoe” in 1972 and the “Waffle Trainer” in 1974. His waffle iron shoe helped spur the growth of Blue Ribbon Sports / Nike.

  • The word “waffle” first appears in the English language in 1725.
  • The World’s Record for the largest waffle weighs 110 lb 3.68 oz and was created by Stichting Gouda Oogst (Netherlands) in Nieuwe Markt, Gouda, Netherlands, on 29 June 2013. The waffle had a diameter of 8 ft 1.24 in.
  • Patrick Bertoletti holds ate 29 Waffles in ten minutes in 2007, beating fellow eating champion, Joey Chestnut in the World Waffle Eating Championships.

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