CNN — Strike while the iron is hot - August 24 is National Waffle Day.
On this day in 1869, Cornelius Swarthout of New York filed a patent for the first waffle iron. His design was simple: he added a lid on a hinge to a cast-iron skillet, and two dividers in the pan to make individual waffles. You can see his patent application, with drawings, here.
Forty years later, in 1911, Thomas Steckbeck helped General Electric develop the first electric model. A special feature of this design was the built-in thermometer to prevent burning.
Waffle batter (typically a combination of eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar, milk and vanilla) lends itself well to different ingredients, and can be either sweet or savory. What waffles are served with also depends on where you are. In the South, they'll likely come with a healthy serving of fried chicken and drizzled with honey. In most other regions, waffles are served with syrup and butter for breakfast, or topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert.
And in case you'd like a side of American ingenuity with your breakfast, channel track coach Bill Bowerman. Bill used his wife's waffle iron in experiments to come up with a light but grippable sole for shoes. Sacrificing the waffle iron eventually paid off, and Bill ended up helping to design a shoe for his new company. The shoe was called the Waffle Trainer. Sound familiar? They're just the shoe credited with starting the jogging fad and propelling Nike into one of the biggest companies in the world.