KEY POINTS

  • Waffles were around as early as the 1200s when a craftsman made a cooking iron with a honeycomb pattern
  • The first electric waffle iron was made in 1906 by Simplex Electric Heating Company
  • International Waffle Day is celebrated every March 25, the same day Our Lady Day is held in Sweden

Waffles are a breakfast staple loved across the globe, but how did they come to be? On International Waffle Day this Thursday, take a look at when and where waffles originated.

Waffles have actually been around longer than most would think. As early as the 1200s, a craftsman designed and forged cooking irons with a honeycomb pattern, according to Garrysgrill.com. The batter was poured in, pressed together and cooked over an open hearth fire, creating waffles.

The Old English word for waffles -- "wafla" -- first appeared in print around this time. But it wasn't until the 18th century when the word "waffle" first appeared in the English language in a 1725 printing of "Court Cookery" by Robert Smith. 

By the 16th century, waffles had already spread across Europe. Almost all of society was eating the dish during this period, regardless of one's social class. The difference, however, was in the ingredients used to make the treat. The poor would make them using mostly flour and water, while people who were more affluent included eggs, milk and honey to add more rich flavors.

As time passed, waffles of varying kinds emerged. They became sweeter in the 1700s after more butter and sugar were added to its recipe. Come 1839, the Belgian waffle, also called Brussels waffle, was created in Ghent, Belgium, and was much thicker than the regular one, with deeper grids. This variation had more filling and was able to hold more jam and cream, which then instantly made it a crowd favorite when it was released.

Waffles first came to America with Dutch immigrants to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in the 17th century, according to "Antique Electric Waffle Irons 1900-1960: A History of the Appliance Industry."

Cornelius Swartwout was granted a patent for a stove-top version of the waffle iron by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1869.

In 1906, the first electric waffle iron was invented by the Simplex Electric Heating Company, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

International Waffle Day itself is the result of a slight mispronunciation that brought two different holidays together. In Sweden, Waffle Day is known as Våffeldagen, which sounded a lot similar to Vårfrudagen (Our Lady Day). Due to this, it is now customary for people to celebrate the Virgin Mary's conception with waffles. Both of the holidays are celebrated on the 25th of March.

Waffle Iron Celebrate Waffle Iron Day by creating any one of these 20 delicious meals. Above: A Krampouz waffle iron in Pluguffan, France, March 26, 2015. Photo: Getty Images