11 Golden Facts About Eggo Waffles

iStock
iStock

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 ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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When Al Capone Ran a Soup Kitchen During the Great Depression

Al Capone: Public Enemy #1, soup kitchen proprietor
Al Capone: Public Enemy #1, soup kitchen proprietor
The Paris Bureau of The New York Times, National Archives and Records Administration // Public Domain

Four years after gangster Al Capone took over Chicago’s leading crime syndicate, he had raked in over $40 million—around $550 million today. The money came from illegally selling booze during Prohibition; bottles were distributed to more than 10,000 speakeasies and brothels in a vast bootlegging network across the Midwest.

Capone’s alcohol distribution was unlawful, but to many Americans, the man’s work was heroic. He claimed he was just a businessman giving the people what they wanted—and what the people wanted more than anything in the 1920s was liquor.

But Capone’s role as an Italian-American Robin Hood didn’t stop there. As he orchestrated criminal activities behind the scenes, Capone simultaneously launched a program to provide milk to Chicago school children and donated huge sums to local charities.

It was the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, however, that spurred Capone to his greatest work of philanthropy. Almost overnight, the American economy collapsed into the Great Depression. Banks failed, businesses shuttered, and millions were suddenly unemployed and hungry. Hundreds of soup kitchens popped up around the country. One of them belonged to Al Capone.

No Questions Asked

Men line up at Al Capone's soup kitchen during the Great Depression
Men line up at Al Capone's soup kitchen during the Great Depression.
The Paris Bureau of The New York Times, National Archives and Records Administration // Public Domain

When Al Capone’s soup kitchen opened at 935 South State Street, in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, in mid-November 1930, hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans were out of work. By the following year, 624,000 people—or 50 percent of the Chicago workforce—were out of a job.

Capone’s charity had no name, just a sign over the door that advertised “Free Soup, Coffee & Doughnuts for the Unemployed.” Inside, women in white aprons served an average of 2200 people a day with a smile and no questions asked. Breakfast was hot coffee and sweet rolls. Both lunch and dinner consisted of soup and bread. Every 24 hours, diners devoured 350 loaves of bread and 100 dozen rolls. They washed down their meals with 30 pounds of coffee sweetened with 50 pounds of sugar. The whole operation cost $300 per day.

The soup kitchen didn’t advertise its connection to Capone, but the mobster-benefactor’s name was connected to it in stories printed in local newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and The Rock Island Argus. Those who were down on their luck, though, apparently had few qualms about eating from the hand of Chicago’s worst crime boss. Often the line to get in to the kitchen was so long that it wound past the door of the city’s police headquarters, where Capone was considered Public Enemy #1, according to Harper’s Magazine. The line was particularly lengthy when Capone’s soup kitchen hosted a Thanksgiving meal of cranberry sauce and beef stew for 5000 hungry Chicagoans. (Why beef and not turkey? After 1000 turkeys were stolen from a nearby department store, Capone feared he’d be blamed for the theft and made a last-minute menu change.)

Capone's Ulterior Motives

Capone’s efforts to feed Chicago during the darkest days of the Great Depression weren’t entirely altruistic. It wasn’t even originally his idea, but that of his friend and political ally Daniel Serritella, who was elected to the Illinois state senate in 1930. Nor did Capone invest much of his own money into the operation. Instead, Deirdre Bair writes in Capone: His Life, Legacy and Legend, he bribed and extorted other businesses to stock the pantry. In just one example, during Seritella's 1932 trial for conspiring with grocers to cheat customers [PDF], the court discovered that a load of ducks that had been donated to Christmas baskets for the poor ended up in Capone’s soup kitchen instead.

Perhaps more than anything, Capone opened his soup kitchen to get the public back on his side after he was implicated in the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. In that murder spree, Capone's associates were believed to have assassinated seven men, five of whom hailed from the rival North Side Gang, inside a Chicago parking garage—though no one was ever prosecuted. Harper’s writer Mary Borden distilled Capone's double-dealing when she described him as “an ambidextrous giant who kills with one hand and feeds with the other.”

Capone’s soup kitchen closed abruptly in April 1932. The proprietors claimed that the kitchen was no longer needed because the economy was picking up, even though the number of unemployed across the country had increased by 4 million between 1931 and 1932. The diners who had attended the kitchen daily were forced to move on to another one.

Two months later, Capone was indicted on 22 counts of income tax evasion; the charges that eventually landed him in San Francisco’s Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Though Capone vowed to reopen his soup kitchen during his trial, its doors stayed shut. By the time he was released from prison in 1939, a raging case of syphilis had rendered Capone mentally and physically incapable of managing his own life, let alone that of Chicago’s once-dominant crime syndicate and the soup kitchen that softened his gangster image.

Capone died in 1947, but his larger-than-life legacy lives on. His soup kitchen wasn’t so lucky. The building became a flophouse, and in 1955, Chicago authorities deemed it a fire hazard and shut it down permanently. Today, only a parking lot remains at the site of Chicago’s most notorious food pantry.