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11 Late-Night Facts About Waffle House

Waffle House has been around for 60 years, but how much do you know about this iconic southern food chain? Scatter, smother, and cover your brain with these facts. 

1. THE FOUNDERS WERE NEIGHBORS.

In the mid-1950s, Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner were neighbors working for the Toddle House chain and at a real estate agency, respectively. The two men decided they wanted to open their own restaurant, one that focused on its customers—and on Labor Day 1955, the first Waffle House opened its doors in Avondale Estates, Georgia.

The restaurant was a huge success; by 1961, there were four locations, allowing Rogers to leave his job at the Toddle House. With time, the iconic yellow sign began to pop up all over the Southeast.

2. FEMA USES A "WAFFLE HOUSE INDEX" TO DETERMINE THE SEVERITY OF A NATURAL DISASTER.

Since Waffle House prides itself on being open 24/7, FEMA uses the restaurant as an informal index to determine the impact of disasters. It has three stages: Green indicates an open restaurant with a full menu; yellow means the restaurant is serving a limited menu; and red means the Waffle House is closed. And if Waffle House is completely closed, you know things are bad: The restaurants are extremely adaptable, and their limited menu varies according to what appliances are working in the kitchen and what supplies are available.

3. EACH RESTAURANT'S KEYS ARE KEPT ABOVE GROUND.

Contrary to a widespread urban legend, Waffle House is not so confident in its ability to stay open around the clock that it buries the keys to each new location in the cement in front of the restaurant.

4. WAFFLE HOUSE BUYS 2 PERCENT OF ALL AMERICAN EGGS ANNUALLY …

According to the Waffle House website, the chain has served over 2,501,866,574 eggs since its opening in 1955. And according to a 2005 article in USA Today, the restaurant buys 2 percent of all eggs produced in the United States annually.

5. … AND IS THE WORLD'S LEADING SERVER OF T-BONE STEAKS.

Waffle House also churns out steaks at breakneck speeds. The chain serves four T-bones every minute. According to the restaurant, they serve more T-bone steaks than any other outlet in the world: The restaurant has grilled 134,842,441 T-bones since 1955.

6. IT'S MORE ROMANTIC THAN YOU'D THINK.

Not sure what to do for Valentine’s Day? No worries, Waffle House has you covered. For the past eight years, the restaurants have celebrated the holiday with white tablecloths, candles, and heart decorations.

While Valentine’s at Waffle House might seem like a last-minute decision, diners at some locations, like Atlanta’s Cheshire Bridge Road Waffle House, actually do need a reservation. "We're not fancy people," one patron told CBS46 in 2013. "We like Waffle House and its good food."

7. ATLANTA BOASTS THE MOST WAFFLE HOUSES.

The very first Waffle House opened in suburban Atlanta, so it makes sense that the most outlets can be found nearby. The Big Peach has 132 locations. The runner up—Cartersville, Georgia—only has 45.

8. MORE THAN 300 STRIPS OF BACON ARE SERVED A MINUTE.

To be more precise, it’s 341 strips every 60 seconds. The chain also serves 238 orders of hash browns, 145 waffles, 110 sausage patties, and 127 cups of coffee per minute.

9. WAFFLE HOUSE RECORDS IS A THING.

In 1984, Waffle House records released its first song, "Waffle House Family." In 2007, the chain released their first music video, called "Bert," after its chili. If you want something to listen to while driving to your nearest Waffle House, you can also pick up Waffle House Jukebox Favorites, Vol. 2.

10. YOU CAN VISIT THE ORIGINAL LOCATION, BUT YOU CAN'T GET A WAFFLE THERE.

The original location has been converted into a museum, so while you can still visit (by appointment only), you can’t sit down and order a T-bone. The museum has been renovated to look like it’s frozen in 1955. Visitors can still enjoy the retro design and buy something in its extensive gift shop, though.

11. WAFFLE HOUSE WANTS YOUR CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM.

Waffle House Test Kitchen is a division of the company that focuses on adding new menu items. "As our Regulars know, we don’t like to fix what ain’t broken," the Waffle House website explains. "But we are continually working to make sure we serve the best food available, made with the best recipes. And occasionally, we’ll introduce a new product."

After the chain releases a new food, it invites diners to fill out a survey asking what they thought. Waffle House uses those results to decide what should stay on the menu permanently.

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Big Questions
Why Does Turkey Make You Tired?
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iStock

Why do people have such a hard time staying awake after Thanksgiving dinner? Most people blame tryptophan, but that's not really the main culprit. And what is tryptophan, anyway?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can't be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. Tryptophan doesn't have much of an impact unless it's taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we're getting from our drumstick. So why does turkey get the rap as a one-way ticket to a nap?

The urge to snooze is more the fault of the average Thanksgiving meal and all the food and booze that go with it. Here are a few things that play into the nap factor:

Fats: That turkey skin is delicious, but fats take a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. Reduced blood flow in the rest of the body means reduced energy.

Alcohol: What Homer Simpson called the cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems is also a central nervous system depressant.

Overeating: Same deal as fats. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast (the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat), so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain a little tired.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Space
More Details Emerge About 'Oumuamua, Earth's First-Recorded Interstellar Visitor
 NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA/JPL-Caltech

In October, scientists using the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope sighted something extraordinary: Earth's first confirmed interstellar visitor. Originally called A/2017 U1, the once-mysterious object has a new name—'Oumuamua, according to Scientific American—and researchers continue to learn more about its physical properties. Now, a team from the University of Hawaii's Institute of Astronomy has published a detailed report of what they know so far in Nature.

Fittingly, "'Oumuamua" is Hawaiian for "a messenger from afar arriving first." 'Oumuamua's astronomical designation is 1I/2017 U1. The "I" in 1I/2017 stands for "interstellar." Until now, objects similar to 'Oumuamua were always given "C" and "A" names, which stand for either comet or asteroid. New observations have researchers concluding that 'Oumuamua is unusual for more than its far-flung origins.

It's a cigar-shaped object 10 times longer than it is wide, stretching to a half-mile long. It's also reddish in color, and is similar in some ways to some asteroids in own solar system, the BBC reports. But it's much faster, zipping through our system, and has a totally different orbit from any of those objects.

After initial indecision about whether the object was a comet or an asteroid, the researchers now believe it's an asteroid. Long ago, it might have hurtled from an unknown star system into our own.

'Oumuamua may provide astronomers with new insights into how stars and planets form. The 750,000 asteroids we know of are leftovers from the formation of our solar system, trapped by the Sun's gravity. But what if, billions of years ago, other objects escaped? 'Oumuamua shows us that it's possible; perhaps there are bits and pieces from the early years of our solar system currently visiting other stars.

The researchers say it's surprising that 'Oumuamua is an asteroid instead of a comet, given that in the Oort Cloud—an icy bubble of debris thought to surround our solar system—comets are predicted to outnumber asteroids 200 to 1 and perhaps even as high as 10,000 to 1. If our own solar system is any indication, it's more likely that a comet would take off before an asteroid would.

So where did 'Oumuamua come from? That's still unknown. It's possible it could've been bumped into our realm by a close encounter with a planet—either a smaller, nearby one, or a larger, farther one. If that's the case, the planet remains to be discovered. They believe it's more likely that 'Oumuamua was ejected from a young stellar system, location unknown. And yet, they write, "the possibility that 'Oumuamua has been orbiting the galaxy for billions of years cannot be ruled out."

As for where it's headed, The Atlantic's Marina Koren notes, "It will pass the orbit of Jupiter next May, then Neptune in 2022, and Pluto in 2024. By 2025, it will coast beyond the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy and rocky objects."

Last week, University of Wisconsin–Madison astronomer Ralf Kotulla and scientists from UCLA and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) used the WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, to take some of the first pictures of 'Oumuamua. You can check them out below.

Images of an interloper from beyond the solar system — an asteroid or a comet — were captured on Oct. 27 by the 3.5-meter WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Ariz.
Images of 'Oumuamua—an asteroid or a comet—were captured on October 27.
WIYN OBSERVATORY/RALF KOTULLA

U1 spotted whizzing through the Solar System in images taken with the WIYN telescope. The faint streaks are background stars. The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image. In these images U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faint
The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image against faint streaks of background stars. In these images, U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faintest visible stars.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Color image of U1, compiled from observations taken through filters centered at 4750A, 6250A, and 7500A.
Color image of U1.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

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