Cornelius Swartwout: Wafflemania!

Leslie likes waffles.

Leslie likes waffles.

Leslie Knope, of Parks & Recreation fame, loves her some waffles. Yet I’m betting she wouldn’t know to thank funny-named Cornelius Swartwout (or Swarthout, depending who you ask), who has gone down in history as the breakfast-minded genius inventor of the waffle iron.

To quote the official Cornelius Swartwout website:

Be proud of your heritage!  Eat waffles!  The first patent for a Waffle maker was issued to Cornelius Swartwout on August 24th 1869!

You’ll agree, I’m sure, that this quote alone is enough to make a Blog of Funny Names post, but Word Count tells me I’ve yet to hit my 500-word limit, so let’s dig deeper into the waffle iron and the man that was Cornelius Swartwout.

The earliest waffle irons were not the work of Mr. Swartwout; instead, they originated in the Netherlands circa 14th century. Made of two hinged iron plates connected to two long wooden handles, the plates often imprinted elaborate fancy-pants patterns on the waffle–think coat of arms, landscapes, religious symbols, and the like. These waffle irons were held over a hearth fire for baking.

woo hoo!

woo hoo!

But American entrepreneurialism won out when Cornelius Swartwout patented the first U.S. waffle iron. His invention looked nothing like the slick electric models we plug in today, but its design revolutionized how waffles were made. Fashioned to sit on wood or gas stoves, the cast-iron plates were joined by a hinge that swiveled in a cast-iron collar.

Another funnily-named guy, John Kleimbach, joined the waffle party in 1891. A German immigrant living in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, Kleimach hit the road as a traveling waffle salesman (what a job!) after making an iron for the Mansion House Hotel. Kliembach’s waffles are said to have been a penny each or ten cents for a dozen. Hardly surprising that he was a sensation at the Chicago World’s Fair.

If you are an extreme waffle fan, then you might already know that August 24, the day that Swartwout received his patent, is known as Cornelius Swartwout Waffle Appreciation Day. Even more amazing is the fact that this “event” has its own facebook page. Folks are already registering for the 2014 shindig, and why wouldn’t they? The invitation reads:

Celebrate the patenting of the waffle iron by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York on August 24, 1869.

This is a day where we enjoy delicious waffles with our loved ones. So whether they are store bought, home made, or at a restaurant go get some waffles & have some fun!

Be sure to post pictures of your party. While having bacon is not required, it’s encouraged.

This is a public event, so feel free to invite anyone you want!

If this sounds like your kind of virtual party, you can register here.

Until the next installment of Funny Names in Food, I raise my fork in salute to all things waffle. Leslie Knope may not have the best judgment in leading community board meetings, etc. but she does know how to enjoy her waffles. Thank you Cornelius Swartwout for making it all possible.Seal_LLC (2)


About Liz

Owner of deLizious Food Communications. Projects include recipe development, editing, and formatting; food writing and editing; nutrition analysis; public speaking and cooking instruction. Past and present clients: General Mills, Green Giant Fresh, Hormel, Minnesota Beef Council, Minnesota Soybean, Minnesota Pork Producers, Norwood Promotional Products, Pillsbury, Tad Ware, and Weight Watchers Publishing. Mother of two young girls.
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33 Responses to Cornelius Swartwout: Wafflemania!

  1. wdydfae says:

    “. . . Though Liz ‘does waffles’ she certainly doesn’t ‘waffle’ in this delectable ‘breakfospective’ on our favorite grid-shaped morning repast . . .”

    “. . . There’s nothing syrupy about Liz’s latest fact-filled forray into food, but it sure is sweet! . . .”

    “. . . Liz’s Tuesday edition is as welcome a sight as a waffle iron at a hotel Continental Breakfast corner when the only other options are Raisin Bran, bruised apples, or oatmeal envelops. Bravo! . . .”

    “. . . Liz has plenty of ‘irons’ in the fire when it comes to food blogging, but the fact is, she just gets ‘batter’ and ‘batter’ . . .”

  2. amb says:

    Liz !!! And Leslie !!! And waffles !!! All together in one post !!! Oh, this makes me so happy on so many levels. Multiples of my favourite things all together, and with one of my favourite funny names* thrown into the mix too! I swoon with happiness 😀

    Am also swooning over the line, While having bacon is not required, it’s encouraged. Pretty sure I need to be adding this to all of my invitations to all of my events going forward. Best. Line. Ever. I loved this post!! Awesome job as always, my friend !!!

    * shameless self-promotion time: I love any and all “Cornelius” posts, partly because it’s an amazing name, but mostly because of the funny names theory Dave dedicated to me. *swoon*

    • Liz says:

      was excited for you to read this one as you and Dave can take full credit for the Leslie reference–you guys have been teaching me well. (Speaking of “you guys”: We’ve passed October but are not yet into December. Which means we’re smack dab in the middle of Davember!)

      Figured you were on board for the waffles, too. I know you might not be wordpressing it later this week, but if you can at all circle back to my next food for fun post, you will be richly rewarded with something sticky and sweet to pour over waffles. Whatever could that be? 😉

      Thanks for coming by on what is a busy morning for you, amb.

      • Dave says:

        We ARE in Davember! How did I not realize this??? That’s awesome!

        • amb says:

          I didn’t realize it either. Obviously a very auspicious time for you to be embarking on all your projects. 😉 Also obviously time for us to write a joint post together, yes? Have your people call my people when I’m back from vacation.

    • Dave says:

      Yes yes yes! Everything about today is awesome!

  3. And the winner is: Wafflemania.

    I loved seeing that in my in box this morning. I’m sure Dave will be as thrilled as Amb with the Cornelius reference.

    And a waffle party to boot! This post has it all. Yum.

    Well done, Liz! Or in Waffle vernacular, golden brown. 🙂

  4. ksbeth says:

    fill your mouth with waffles and try to say, ‘cornelius swartwout’ 6 times without choking or laughing.

  5. Arto says:

    You know what I really love? Waffles.

    I also love posts about people who invented waffle irons with funny names that I had never heard of. Rest assured, I will be marking down Cornelius Swartwout Day in my calendar for next year to celebrate the invention of this fine food item.

    • Liz says:

      Arto, you’re here–excellent. Was hoping I wouldn’t miss you at THIS party. Am glad you have put Aug 24 on your calendar. Be sure to bring the Hanky Books as there will be all that sticky syrup to wipe up. Yet another customer base!

      Who knew about the waffle iron? It was all new to me. But without Cornelius, our only option would be pancakes.

      • Arto says:

        Ooh what a good idea – everyone deals with gooey syrup situations! Yes, good idea.

        To your last point, all I can say is, thank you Cornelius!

        • Arto says:

          No offense to pancakes, of course.

          • Liz says:

            goes without saying! speaking of sticky syrup and your hanky books, am using mine to wipe up the drips from my “photo shoot” for tomorrow’s food for fun post. Expecting to see you there 😉 (only if you want syrup recipes, of course)

  6. Bonnie says:

    Now, I want breafkfast for dinner, and I believe that this shall happen. Tonight. In straight order. Waffles of the pumpkin kind and some bacon. Always bacon. Should I add in some eggs? You have inspired me Liz!

    • Liz says:

      Bonnie! I’m really late on this one. How sad, after all the waffles and whiskey we’ve (virtually) shared 😉 So glad you’re here. And regarding your comment: I think I know how this one turned out!

      Still dreaming about your breakfast feast with the scramble, pumpkin waffles, and bacon. mmmmmm…..

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  8. mimijk says:

    So late for this party – but with a name as auspicious as Cornelius Swartout it seems only fitting that he would invent something as unique as the waffle iron ..

    • Liz says:

      Hi, Mimi! No end-time for this party–you’re always welcome. Agreed that the waffle iron is a unique invention. But a yummy one 🙂 Thanks for coming over. Be sure to grab a waffle when you leave.

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  11. Judy Gumaer Testa says:

    Swartwout being a Dutchman & Waffles being quintessentially Dutch; it makes perfect sense. Swartwout is pronounced [Swart-OU] translates to Blackwood – which happens to be a one of several variants of the surname which is unique to one specific progenitor.

  12. Judy Gumaer Testa says:

    Swartwout isn’t a funny name, it’s Dutch

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