If you’re a waffle aficionado — Eggo or otherwise — there’s never been a better time in history to be alive. It was only some decades ago that if you wanted waffles you had to whip up the batter, lug out a waffle iron, and make them yourself. Now you can have golden waffles drenched in butter and syrup on your plate in mere minutes if you wish. And they can even be shaped like Spider-Man, should you so desire.
This is all thanks to Eggo. No, the brand didn’t invent the waffle or even the modern waffle iron — that accolade goes to a 19th-century inventor named Cornelius Swartwout (via Smithsonian Magazine). What Eggo did do, though, was make and freeze waffles so consumers could simply heat and eat, taking out all the fuss and mess.
Since Eggo first hit the scene in the mid-20th century, frozen waffles have become a million-dollar industry. According to market research firm Technavio (via Baking Business), the frozen waffle market is expected to increase by $292.4 million by 2022. And although there are a lot of waffle brands from which to choose, today we’re talking about the OG frozen waffle. This is the untold truth of Eggo waffles.
Before waffles, Eggo was known for this condiment
Eggo waffles might be a breakfast staple for many, conjuring up images of melting butter and sweet syrup. What probably doesn’t come to your mind is mayonnaise. As odd and/or gross as the mayo-waffle connection may sound, Eggo mayo was a thing. And, had it not been a hit, there’s a real chance the Eggo waffle would’ve never gotten off the ground.
According to The Day (via Google News Archive), Frank Dorsa, along with his brothers Anthony and Sam, entered the food business in 1932. Their first taste of success came by way of Eggo mayonnaise, with their 1940s newspaper ad touting the spread as having the "highest egg content" among mayo brands of the day. The ad revealed their mayo was made "fresh ranch eggs," hence the name "Eggo."
Why the Dorsas decided to venture into waffles after their foray in mayo isn’t exactly known. An overabundance of eggs perhaps? We can only speculate. Prior to developing the frozen waffle, though, the Dorsa brothers began selling waffle batter and then a dry waffle mix.
The co-founder of Eggo waffles was a pioneer of food preparation
Eggo co-founder Frank Dorsa wasn’t just a pioneer when it came to developing the frozen waffle but a trailblazer in food preparation and an inventor of gadgetry. The Dorsa brothers may have started their food business in the basement of their parents’ home, but within six years their operation had outgrown its original location, according to The Day (via Google News Archive). Frank and his brothers then bought a potato chip plant in San Jose, California, upon which led to Mr. Dorsa inventing an automatic continuous potato peeler that would eliminate the need to peel potatoes by hand, The New York Times reported.
Before Eggo waffles came along, Frank invented a fryer that wouldn’t curl bacon. He even ventured outside of the food world and developed a cement squeegee, per The Seattle Times. The invention that would truly carve out Dorsa’s place in the world, though, would be his waffle iron carousel. In the 1950s, he and his brothers developed the machine that functioned much like a merry-go-round, only with waffle irons, and allowed them to pump out thousands of fresh waffles per hour. It wasn’t long before Eggo waffles — or froffles, as they were called at the time — were in area grocery stores.
Upon his death in 1996, Frank’s son, Frank Dorsa Jr., would remark how much his father enjoyed working on new gadgets. "He was always tinkering," he told The New York Times.
Eggo Pancakes were released almost 50 years after Eggo Waffles
Eggo waffles forever changed breakfast when they began showing up in supermarkets in the early to mid 1950s. One would think that frozen pancakes would’ve followed relatively soon after, right? That, of course, wasn’t the case at all. In fact, it would be decades before Eggo introduced frozen pancakes to their "froffle" consumers.
By all accounts, it seems that Eggo didn’t start selling frozen pancakes until 1997 — a year after co-founder Frank Dorsa’s death. A commercial at the time boasted that the new frozen pancakes would "turn your microwave into a griddle." So what exactly took Eggo so long to roll out frozen pancakes? Well, unfortunately, making a decent pancake that froze well wasn’t all that simple.
According to The Seattle Times, Dorsa got to work on developing frozen pancakes soon after releasing waffles, but he just couldn’t develop a recipe that he was satisfied with. Pancakes might seem easy enough, but trust us, there are plenty of cooking mistakes that can ruin a stack of flapjacks.
This catchphrase brought Eggo waffles into the mainstream
Eggo waffles may have been around since the ’50s, but it wouldn’t be until the 1970s that they really started to catch on. According to The New York Times, the Dorsa brothers sold Eggo in 1966 to a company that was eventually absorbed by breakfast giant Kellogg’s.
Kellogg’s needed a way to sell their frozen waffles and tapped their marketing agency partner Leo Burnett to come up with a catchy tagline, Advertising Week 360 explained. Introduced in 1972, the "L’Eggo My Eggo" campaign was a huge success and drove home the idea that the frozen waffles were simply too good to share. According to Trinh Le, Kellogg’s director of frozen breakfast marketing, the tagline helped the brand solidify its reputation and "propel Eggo" above its competitors.
As Ad Age noted, the tagline was used in the brand’s commercials and marketing efforts all the way up through 2011 when it was retired for "simply delicious." The new tagline wouldn’t prove to have the same catchy appeal as its predecessor, however, and in 2013, Kellogg’s began working "L’Eggo My Eggo" back into its marketing.
Kellogg’s nearly ran out of Eggo waffles
Fans were left waffling about what to do when Kellogg’s announced an Eggo shortage in late 2009. The breakfast giant said the unexpected problem was due to an interruption in production at two of the four plants responsible for making the frozen food, NBC News reported at the time. One of those interruptions was because of a bad storm that dumped water on the company’s Atlanta, Georgia facility. At the same time, crucial production lines in Rossville, Tennessee were shut down for needed repairs.
It didn’t take long for Eggo waffles to become scarce in grocery store freezers, either. Joey Resciniti, a Pennsylvania shopper and mommy blogger, told NBC News in November 2009 that she bought one of the last boxes on her grocery shopping trip and was brainstorming how to stretch them out. "We have eight of them, and if we ration those — maybe have half an Eggo in one sitting — then it’ll last longer," she said. According to The Mercury News, some people even tried selling Eggo waffles to desperate breakfast fans on eBay.
Kellogg’s estimated at the time that it would be until the middle of 2010 before its Eggo supply was back at full capacity and even attempted damage control with a hotline for worried customers. A bit extreme, sure, but people love their waffles.
Stranger Things provided a much-needed boost for Eggo waffles
Who would’ve thought that a sci-fi show about ’80s kids battling supernatural forces would be the best advertising for Eggo in years? When the popular Netflix show Stranger Things debuted in the summer of 2016 it was an instant hit. Besides having psychokinetic abilities, the show’s central character Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown) had a love of Eggo waffles and pretty soon fans were reminded just how much they loved the frozen waffles, too.
Kellogg’s sales of Eggo waffles had actually been on a somewhat downward slide, but came roaring back once the show debuted, according to CNN Business. "When Eggo waffles became a fixture on the hit show Stranger Things, we quickly leveraged the [resulting] consumer engagement," Kellogg’s executive Steven Cahillane told the publication in June 2018. "It sparked conversations. And it prompted consumers to reconsider a long-established brand in new and very contemporary ways."
Eggo waffle sales were high while people were binge-watching Stranger Things, but sales seemingly cooled off afterward. "Eggo should also be poised for a lift when a new season of Stranger Things returns next year," CNN noted.
Eggo waffles weren’t a product placement in Stranger Things
It’s not uncommon for brands to shell out big money to have their products featured in popular TV shows and summer blockbuster movies. Sometimes product placement works so well you don’t know why you’re suddenly craving a Pepsi whereas other product placements are ridiculous and you can’t help but roll your eyes at the Transformers trying to sell Oreos.
On the surface, Eggo’s placement in Stranger Things might seem like the result of Kellogg’s opening their checkbook for Netflix, asking "How much?" After all, Eleven could have just as easily been in love with a different ’80s fave, like Lunchables or Cheez Whiz. However, as Kellogg’s frozen breakfast director Trinh Le told Advertising Week 360, it was all a complete surprise.
"We found out about it just after Season One dropped and we started seeing tons of Eggo and Stranger Things mentions on social media," Le said. "Netflix doesn’t offer any paid placement in their shows, so Eggo’s presence was a really great surprise for the brand." This isn’t to say that the brand didn’t quickly capitalize on their newfound popularity. They ultimately partnered with Netflix for a Super Bowl commercial, developed a "L’Eggo My Spoiler" app app for watching the show, and developed DIY Halloween ideas for their waffle boxes.
Eggo dominates the frozen waffle market
Eggo waffles may not be the only variety in your grocery store’s freezer section, but it’s certainly the biggest in terms of market share. Eggo dominated 60 percent of the frozen waffle market in 2014 and not much has changed since then. According to Statista, Eggo is the biggest brand in the frozen waffle market in 2020 and is raking in millions for Kellogg’s. Various private label waffle brands are Eggo’s closest competitors, but their combined $32.5 million in sales hardly compare to the $118 million of Eggo.
Just because Eggo dominates the frozen waffle market, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best-tasting frozen waffles. A number of frozen waffle rankings are floating around the internet and Eggo seems to get some pretty mixed reviews.
When it came down to taste, Eat This, Not That! editors preferred waffle brand Julian’s Recipe and ranked Eggo in a dismal ninth place for being "limp" and "fake-tasting." Ouch. However, Uproxx gave the exact same Eggo Homestyle waffles their top spot and noted the waffle’s nostalgic appeal. Perhaps the key to maximizing their enjoyment is to eat them while watching your favorite childhood cartoon or, you know, Stranger Things.
Eggo waffles come in a wide variety of flavors and shapes
You can pretty much bet that the longer a brand’s product remains in the marketplace, the weirder it’s spin-offs are going to get. Sometimes these spin-offs are major hits (e.g. Coca-Cola Cherry), other times you get massive fails, like Coca-Cola C2.
Considering that Eggo has been around over half a century, it’s racked up quite a few of its own variations — some better than others. Head over to the Kellogg’s website and you’ll find blueberry, strawberry, and buttermilk waffles . Nothing too weird there. However, the brand ventured into less familiar breakfast territory with their Confetti waffles. You know, just in case they weren’t sweet enough with syrup, why not make them taste like birthday cake? Naturally, the brand has also jumped on the autumnal pumpkin spice trend.
There’s really no reason that your Eggo has to even resemble a waffle if you don’t want it to. In an effort to appeal to kiddos everywhere, Kellogg’s also offers Eggo waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse, Spider-Man, and characters from shows like Paw Patrol and movies like Frozen 2. The Dorsa brothers’ minds would surely be blown if they could see the evolution of the humble Eggo.
This man holds the record for most Eggo-style frozen waffles eaten in eight minutes
According to Kellogg’s, a serving size of their Eggo waffles is two waffles. Competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut is a man who laughs at suggested serving sizes, though, and piles as much food into his mouth as humanly possible. Not surprisingly, it would only be a matter of time until frozen waffles found their way to Chestnut’s plate. However, when he went up against Patrick Bertoletti in 2007, he lost. It’s easy to see how, though, as Bertoletti ate a whopping 29 waffles in ten minutes at that year’s World Waffle Eating Championship.
In the years since, Chestnut has definitely stepped up his waffle-eating skills. In 2019, he sat down with fellow competitive eater Matt Stonie to see who could eat the most "Eggo-style" frozen waffles, The Mercury News reported. The two competitive eaters dove headfirst into the waffles in front of a packed house during intermission for a minor-league hockey team, with Chestnut emerging victorious. Chestnut didn’t just defeat Bertoletti’s old record, he obliterated it, putting away 81 frozen waffles in just eight minutes, Major League Eating revealed. As for Stonie, he ate a respectable 75 waffles.
The toaster may not be the best way to prepare your Eggo waffles
The toaster is probably the method most you use to prepare a crispy Eggo waffle. But we’re here to let you know that you’ve been cooking your frozen waffles all wrong. Yes, there’s a far superior method you should be using. While this technique does require slightly more effort, some things are worth doing right — and a golden waffle is one such thing.
Tyler, the Creator shared his Eggo waffle food hack and, well, we’re sold. In order to make these perfect waffles, you’ll need to start by throwing any notion of eating healthy out the window and slather each side of your frozen waffles with one tablespoon of butter. Next, throw those waffles in a heated pan on the stove and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon over them. Check to see if your waffles are golden brown on the bottom before flipping and adding another dash of cinnamon. Remove your waffles once both sides are dark enough to your liking, add syrup, and tell any waffle thieves to l’Eggo your eggo.
Fans rallied together to bring back Eggo Waffle Cereal
Not every food from your childhood is destined to make a comeback. For every story of a Surge soda reboot, there are a dozen Butterfinger BB’s that just haven’t happened. This is especially true with breakfast cereals. The cereal market can be a fickle creature and, as every fan knows, there are a lot of cereals you’ll never have again.
It seemed like Eggo Waffle Cereal was destined to be one of these forgotten breakfast cereals. The cereal, which was meant to be a miniature version of the frozen waffles that you could eat in a bowl with milk (though it did look suspiciously like Honeycomb cereal), first hit supermarkets in the early 2000s, according to Delish. The cereal was eventually pulled and seemingly gone for good until Eggo announced on Twitter in August 2019 that if their post got 10,000 retweets they’d bring the cereal back. Not only did Kellogg’s bring back the original syrup-flavored Eggo cereal by December 2019, they rolled out a new blueberry version — and fans everywhere rejoiced.