11 Golden Facts About Eggo Waffles

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There’s something comforting in knowing that a hot, golden waffle may be waiting in the nearest freezer, which means that Eggo waffles are the best thing to happen to toasters since sliced bread. How well do you know the beloved breakfast staple? We tracked down some interesting facts in honor of National Waffle Week.

1. THEIR INVENTORS WERE ORIGINALLY MAYONNAISE MOGULS. 

To say the Eggo story has humble beginnings is a bit of an understatement. In 1932, Frank Dorsa of San Jose, California and his brothers Anthony and Sam joined forces on a culinary project in their parents’ basement. When they were finished, the Dorsa brothers had created a new brand of mayonnaise. Throughout the Depression, Eggo Mayonnaise boasted of its use of “100 percent fresh ranch eggs” and “triple refined vegetable oil,” which helped it sell quite well around the Dorsas’ San Jose home. A 1939 San Jose Evening News headline even read, “Local Mayonnaise is Highly Popular.” 

2. WAFFLES CAME LATER.

After the Dorsas conquered the local mayonnaise game, they kept going. As Frank Dorsa’s obituary would later note, the brothers turned an infusion of $50 into the capital they needed to break into the waffle business. Before long, they were selling both mayonnaise and fresh waffle batter to hungry northern Californians. Eventually, though, they hit a snag: Shipping fresh batter and mayo restricted the area in which they could sell their wares. Undeterred, they created a powdered mix that cooks could reconstitute with a little milk. 

3. THE EGGO LINE ONLY GOT BIGGER FROM THERE.

As the waffle and mayonnaise trade took off, the Dorsas expanded their sights. In 1938, they acquired the Garden City Potato Chip factory, and soon there were Eggo chips on the market. The Eggo line would eventually feature a dazzling variety of non-waffle foods, including noodles, salad dressings, and pretzels. Trade.mar.cx has a fun collection of old Eggo packaging. 

4. BRANCHING INTO CHIPS HELPED MAKE THE EGGOS WE KNOW POSSIBLE. 

The acquisition of the potato chip plant did more than just help Eggo expand into chips. It gave Frank Dorsa a chance to flex his muscles as an inventor. A trained machinist who had worked for a food machinery company, Dorsa used his mechanical know-how to invent a continuous potato peeler that would save employees from having to peel every fryer-bound potato by hand. This brand of ingenuity and automation would come in handy later when the Dorsas faced another issue.

5. CONSUMERS' MOVEMENT INTO FROZEN FOOD WAS A PROBLEM. 

By the early 1950s, postwar Americans no longer wanted fresh waffle batter or even the Dorsas’ powdered Eggo mix. Frozen foods were the hot item, and if the Eggo brand wanted to stay relevant, it would need to create a market for frozen waffles. At that point, the Dorsas ran into an issue that’s familiar to anyone who has broken out the waffle iron on a weekend morning: Making each waffle is a fair amount of work that requires pouring batter and monitoring the cooking process. At first glance, waffles don’t seem like a food that would be easy to mass-produce. 

6. FRANK DORSA'S SOLUTION WAS BRILLIANTLY QUIRKY. 

The Dorsas had risen from their parents’ basement at the height of the Depression—they weren’t intimidated by the logistical hurdles of waffle-making. Frank sank his teeth into the problem, and by 1953, he had solved it with smart thinking and a little flair. With the help of a merry-go-round engine, Dorsa built a giant, rotating contraption equipped with a slew of waffle irons. The waffles cooked as the carousel rotated, and strategically placed employees could flip each waffle at just the right time. The machine enabled Eggo to crank out thousands of waffles an hour. 

7. THEY ORIGINALLY HAD A DIFFERENT NAME. 

The machine enabled Eggo to crank out thousands of waffles an hour, and American eaters were about to get a treat. When Dorsa’s creation hit grocers’ freezers in 1953, they weren’t called Eggo Waffles. Instead, they were known as Froffles, a combination of “frozen” and “waffles.” After spending two years winning over toasters and becoming a breakfast favorite on the West Coast, the name changed to Eggo waffles in 1955. 

8. EGGO WAFFLES TOOK THE NATION BY STORM IN THE 1970S. 

After years of delighting diners up and down the West Coast, Eggo waffles got their shot at the big time when Kellogg acquired the brand in the 1970s. Taking Eggo national proved to be a savvy move for Kellogg—the brand now controls over 60 percent of the $1.2 billion frozen waffle, pancake, and French toast category.

9. KELLOGG ALSO GAVE THE BRAND ITS CLASSIC SLOGAN. 

Rolling Eggo out on a national basis required a good slogan, and luckily for Kellogg, ad agency Leo Burnett had just the thing. The company debuted its “Leggo My Eggo” campaign in 1972, and the messaging performed so well that it remained the key part of Eggo’s marketing for 36 years. Although Kellogg finally retired the pitch in 2008, nothing can keep a strong tagline from persisting—the company brought back “Leggo my Eggo” in late 2014.

10. EGGO FANS HAD A ROUGH TIME IN 2009 AND 2010. 


In 2009, Kellogg faced what might have been history’s biggest waffle crisis. In September, the company’s Atlanta plant—one of four that makes Eggos—showed signs of Listeria infection, necessitating a recall of 4500 cases of waffles. Just as the plant was poised to reopen, heavy rains and floods hammered the area, further delaying production. Coupled with a temporary shutdown of the company’s waffle-making plant in Rossville, Tenn. for equipment repairs, the delay proved disastrous. Kellogg had to warn customers that Eggo shortages would persist into mid-2010. Thankfully for waffle lovers, Kellogg got the issues straightened out in 2010, and freezers could once again be filled with waffles. 

11. DORSA NEVER PERFECTED PANCAKES. 

When Eggo godfather Frank Dorsa passed away in 1996, his obituaries mentioned that he never abandoned his experimenting and inventions. He created a fryer that kept bacon from curling and a host of other innovations, but Dorsa’s son revealed the one goal that consistently eluded the great food thinker: A recipe for frozen pancakes. One can only imagine, then, that the inclusion of pancakes in the current Eggo product line would delight him. 

The $13,000 Epiphany That Made Orville Redenbacher a National Popcorn King

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iStock.com/NoDerog

Happy National Popcorn Day! While you’re no doubt celebrating with a bowl of freshly popped, liberally buttered popcorn, here’s something else to digest: Orville Redenbacher originally called his product Red-Bow.

In 1951, Redenbacher and his partner, a fellow Purdue grad named Charlie Bowman, purchased the George F. Chester and Son seed corn plant in Boone Township, Indiana. Though Redenbacher’s background was in agronomy and plant genetics, he had dabbled in popcorn, and was friendly with the Chester family.

Eventually, Carl Hartman was brought in to experiment. In 1969, when the trio had developed a seed they felt really confident in, they went to market. They dubbed the product “Red-Bow,” a nod to “Redenbacher” and “Bowman.”

The product was a hit regionally, but by 1970, Bowman and Redenbacher were ready for a national audience and hired a Chicago advertising agency to advise them on branding strategy. At their first meeting, Redenbacher talked about popcorn for three hours. “Come back next week and we’ll have something for you,” he was told afterward.

The following week, he turned to the agency and was told that “Orville Redenbacher’s” was the perfect name for the fledgling popcorn brand. “Golly, no,” he said. “Redenbacher is such a ... funny name.” That was the point, they told him, and they must have made a convincing case for it, because Orville Redenbacher is the brand we know today—and the man himself is still a well-known spokesman more than 20 years after his death.

Still, Redenbacher wasn’t sure that the $13,000 fee the agency had charged was money well spent. “I drove back to Indiana wryly thinking we had paid $13,000 for someone to come up with the same name my mother had come up with when I was born,” Redenbacher later wrote.

Hungry for more Redenbacher? Take a look at the inventor at work in the vintage commercial below.

11 Secrets of Restaurant Servers

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iStock.com/andresr

If you enjoy eating at restaurants, it's worth getting to know the waitstaff. Servers are the face of the establishments where they work, and often the last people to handle your food before it reaches your table.

"People think it’s an easy job, and it’s really not," Alexis, a server who’s worked in the business for 30 years, tells Mental Floss. She says, jokingly, "You want a professional handling your food, because we have your life in our hands."

Even if they don't spit on your plate (which thankfully they almost never will), a waiter can shape your dining experience. We spoke with some seasoned professionals about how they deal with rude customers, what they wish more customers would do, and other secrets of the job.

1. Server pay varies greatly.

The minimum wage changes from state to state, but for tipped workers like servers, the difference in pay can be even more drastic depending on where you work. In over a dozen states, if a worker typically makes a certain amount per month in tips (often $20-$30), their employers are only required to pay them a minimum of $2.13 an hour. That’s how much Jeff, a video producer who’s held various jobs in the restaurant industry, made when serving tables in New Jersey. “Usually, if I had a full paycheck of serving I could just put a little bit of gas into the tank,” he tells Mental Floss.

Waiters and waitresses in many states rely almost entirely on tips to make a living—but that’s not the case everywhere. California, Oregon, and Washington each pay tipped employees minimum hourly wages over $10. Jon, who currently works at a casual fine dining restaurant in Portland, Oregon, gets $12 an hour from his employer. Including tips, he typically earns $230 a day before taxes, and brings home about $34,000 a year on a 25-hour work week.

2. They split up tips among the restaurant staff.

Here’s another reason to be generous with your tips: Whatever extra money you leave on the table may be going to more than one person. If you ordered a drink from the bar, or if there was anyone other than your server bringing your food and clearing it from the table, that tip will likely be split up. At one restaurant job, Jeff says he paid food expeditors (workers who run food from the kitchen to tables) 10 percent of whatever tips he earned.

3. Waiters and waitresses know how to handle rude customers.

In addition to taking orders and serving food, servers are often forced to de-escalate conflicts. For many people waiting tables, this means acting sweet and professional no matter how angry customers get. Jon’s strategy is to “treat them like a child, smile, tell them everything they want to hear and remind yourself that it’ll be over soon.” Similarly, Mike (not his real name), a server at a farm-to-table restaurant in Texas, likes to “kill them with kindness." He tells Mental Floss he tries to “be the bigger man and [not] return sour attitudes back to people who don’t treat me with respect. If nothing else I can hold my head high knowing I did my job to the best of my ability and didn’t let their negativity affect my day with other, more pleasant patrons.”

Alexis, who currently waits tables at a family-owned restaurant in California, goes beyond faking a smile and makes a point to practice empathy when serving rude guests. “There’s a hospital near my restaurant, and people come there for comfort food with hospital visitor stickers on their clothes all the time. And I know then that they’re going through something traumatic usually. So when people are acting badly, I put imaginary hospital stickers on their clothes and try to remove my ego.”

4. Your waiter (probably) won’t spit in your food.

While most servers have had to deal with a customer who treats them poorly, they rarely retaliate. On the old urban legend of servers spitting in their customer’s food, Alexis says, “Never seen anybody mess with anybody’s food out of spite or malicious intent. I’ve never seen it happen and I’ve never actually done it. I don’t need to get back at people like that.”

5. Servers do more than wait tables.

Most customers just see one aspect of a server's jobs. When they’re not refilling your drinks and bringing you condiments, they're doing side work—either before the restaurant opens, after the last guest leaves, or in between waiting tables. “It could be rolling silverware, filling sauces, cutting lemons, rotating salad bars, stuff like that,” Jeff says. “It’s not just serving and you leave; there’s usually something else behind the scenes that the server has to do.”

Alexis says that in addition to hosting and serving, she has to prep to-go orders, bus tables, and wash dishes. "We’re expected to be working every moment,” she says.

6. Waiters have some wild stories.

Though parts of the job are tedious, servers are bound to see interesting things. Alexis recalls a husband and wife who were regulars at the restaurant where she worked in the 1990s; the man was later arrested for murder. “I found out when a newspaper reporter started asking me questions about them,” she says. “I’m quoted on the front page of the LA Times as saying ‘A waitress in a local coffee shop said they were a nightmare!’”

Other stories are lighter. “When I worked at Red Robin there was a lady that came in every morning and would ask to sit in the same booth," Jon says. "She carried a bag [of] stuffed animals (mostly dragons) and situated them around the booth, always in the same spots, she’d talk to them throughout her dining experience.”

7. Waiters hate it when you don't know what you want.

The simplest way to get on your server’s good side is to know exactly what you want when you tell them you're ready to order. That means not wasting their time stalling as you speed-read the menu. If you haven't decided on a dish, let your server know and trust that they'll return to your table in a few minutes. “Don’t tell your server you’re ready to order if you’re not ready to order,” Alexis says. “I’m like ‘Come on, I know you’re not ready. I’m going someplace else and I’ll be back.’”

It also means not asking your server to make several trips to your table in the span of a few minutes. Mike says that customers asking for items one at a time is one of his biggest pet peeves. “[Customers will say] ‘I need salt. I need hot sauce. I need another [...] drink.’ I was away from the table for 30 seconds each time. Those requests could easily be fulfilled in one trip to the kitchen.”

8. Waiters hate when you ask to move tables.

Next time you get seated in a restaurant, think twice before asking your server to switch tables. Restaurants divide their floor plan into sections, and each server is responsible for a different group of tables. The hosts in charge of seating rotate these sections to distribute guests evenly to servers; by asking to move, you may be depriving one server of an hour’s worth of tips while creating extra work for a server who’s already swamped. According Jon, the worst time to complain about where you were seated is when a restaurant is busy: “Sometimes this isn’t a problem if we’re slow, but if it’s a Friday/Saturday chances are you were put there for a reason.”

9. Servers work when everyone else gets the day off.

Servers have to be prepared to work a different schedule every week, work late into the night, and work on weekends. This can make maintaining a normal social life challenging. “My schedule can be troublesome, my girlfriend/friends have the opposite schedule as me so I’m never able to make it out on weekends or holidays,” Jon says.

And on the days many 9-to-5 workers go out to celebrate, servers have to wait on them. “Where I currently work I have worked Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and I will have to work on Mardi Gras (in the South),” Mike says. “I was leaving for work as my family arrived at my house for Christmas. I missed a New Years party in my house. If I hadn’t requested if off as soon as I began working there I’m almost certain I’d have to work 15 [hours] on my birthday.”

10. Your server might give you a free drink if you order it at the right time.

Asking your server for a free stuff likely won’t get you anywhere, but there is one thing you can do to possibly have a drink taken off your bill. If you wait until after your meal is served to order something cheap like a soft drink, Alexis says there’s a chance you won’t get charged for it all. “Not alcoholic drinks, but I’m talking about a cup of coffee or a soda or something like that, especially if you’re already paying for other beverages,” she says. “The server might get too busy or might not be inclined to go back to the POS [point of sale] system and add them on to your bill. It’s more trouble than it’s worth sometimes.”

11. Waiters want you to learn their names.

There’s a reason most servers introduce themselves before taking your order: They’d much rather you use their real names than a demeaning nickname. “Don’t call me sweetheart! I’m wearing a damn name tag,” Alexis says. “Sometimes I respond well, and other times no.”

And if your server doesn’t introduce themselves and isn’t wearing a name tag, Jon says it doesn’t hurt to ask. “Ask what the servers name is and refer them by name when you’re talking to them.” He says it’s “refreshing when a guest does this.”

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