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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. 

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Food
Brine Time: The Science Behind Salting Your Thanksgiving Turkey
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At many Thanksgiving tables, the annual roast turkey is just a vehicle for buttery mash and creamy gravy. But for those who prefer their bird be a main course that can stand on its own without accoutrements, brining is an essential prep step—despite the fact that they have to find enough room in their fridges to immerse a 20-pound animal in gallons of salt water for days on end. To legions of brining believers, the resulting moist bird is worth the trouble.

How, exactly, does a salty soak yield juicy meat? And what about all the claims from a contingency of dry brine enthusiasts: Will merely rubbing your bird with salt give better results than a wet plunge? For a look at the science behind each process, we tracked down a couple of experts.

First, it's helpful to know why a cooked turkey might turn out dry to begin with. As David Yanisko, a culinary arts professor at the State University of New York at Cobleskill, tells Mental Floss, "Meat is basically made of bundles of muscle fibers wrapped in more muscle fibers. As they cook, they squeeze together and force moisture out," as if you were wringing a wet sock. Hence the incredibly simple equation: less moisture means more dryness. And since the converse is also true, this is where brining comes in.

Your basic brine consists of salt dissolved in water. How much salt doesn't much matter for the moistening process; its quantity only makes your meat and drippings more or less salty. When you immerse your turkey in brine—Ryan Cox, an animal science professor at the University of Minnesota, quaintly calls it a "pickling cover"—you start a process called diffusion. In diffusion, salt moves from the place of its highest concentration to the place where it's less concentrated: from the brine into the turkey.

Salt is an ionic compound; that is, its sodium molecules have a positive charge and its chloride molecules have a negative charge, but they stick together anyway. As the brine penetrates the bird, those salt molecules meet both positively and negatively charged protein molecules in the meat, causing the meat proteins to scatter. Their rearrangement "makes more space between the muscle fibers," Cox tells Mental Floss. "That gives us a broader, more open sponge for water to move into."

The salt also dissolves some of the proteins, which, according to the book Cook's Science by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, creates "a gel that can hold onto even more water." Juiciness, here we come!

There's a catch, though. Brined turkey may be moist, but it can also taste bland—infusing it with salt water is still introducing, well, water, which is a serious flavor diluter. This is where we cue the dry briners. They claim that using salt without water both adds moisture and enhances flavor: win-win.

Turkey being prepared to cook.
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In dry brining, you rub the surface of the turkey with salt and let it sit in a cold place for a few days. Some salt penetrates the meat as it sits—with both dry and wet brining, Cox says this happens at a rate of about 1 inch per week. But in this process, the salt is effective mostly because of osmosis, and that magic occurs in the oven.

"As the turkey cooks, the [contracting] proteins force the liquid out—what would normally be your pan drippings," Yanisko says. The liquid mixes with the salt, both get absorbed or reabsorbed into the turkey and, just as with wet brining, the salt disperses the proteins to make more room for the liquid. Only, this time the liquid is meat juices instead of water. Moistness and flavor ensue.

Still, Yanisko admits that he personally sticks with wet brining—"It’s tradition!" His recommended ratio of 1-1/2 cups of kosher salt (which has no added iodine to gunk up the taste) to 1 gallon of water gives off pan drippings too salty for gravy, though, so he makes that separately. Cox also prefers wet brining, but he supplements it with the advanced, expert's addition of injecting some of the solution right into the turkey for what he calls "good dispersal." He likes to use 1-1/2 percent of salt per weight of the bird (the ratio of salt to water doesn't matter), which he says won't overpower the delicate turkey flavor.

Both pros also say tossing some sugar into your brine can help balance flavors—but don't bother with other spices. "Salt and sugar are water soluble," Cox says. "Things like pepper are fat soluble so they won't dissolve in water," meaning their taste will be lost.

But no matter which bird or what method you choose, make sure you don't roast past an internal temperature of 165˚F. Because no brine can save an overcooked turkey.

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

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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