It’s hard to say if anyone has ever loved Eggo waffles more than Eleven in Netflix’s Stranger Things. If she were a real-life person and not a fictional TV character, today would be her favourite day as it’s National Waffle Day. We don’t need to tell you she’d be celebrating Cookie-Monster-style with a fresh box of Eggo’s! If you’re curious to know more about the waffle’s Medieval roots, and what Eleven did for Eggo’s waffle sales, read on.
That’s right, waffles first broke onto the scene in the early Middle Ages. But they did so in a form similar to communion wafers. Made from just flour and water, they had religious imagery pressed onto their round faces. Most people also enjoyed them with honey. Over time more flavourings were added. However, it wasn’t until 15th-century France and Belgium that they began taking the rectangular shape and gridded stamp we’re familiar with now.
The 18th century saw waffle recipes continue to grow in popularity throughout England and North America. But this was soon halted by the affordability of beet sugar. This meant wider access for the middle class to pastries and chocolates. At this time, most people seemed to forget about the waffle. Professional waffle craftsmen (yes, it was a proper profession) were losing business to more and more homemade waffle options. Store-bought waffle mixes and electric waffle makers on the rise. So it wasn’t long before the commercial production of frozen waffles took off.
In 1953, this is exactly what the Dorsa brothers from California did. They released their frozen waffles line to supermarkets, which meant a chance to have waffles without the bulky waffle iron! Audiences took to it and began affectionately calling them, “Eggo’s” because of their slightly eggy flavour. The Dorsa’s changed the brand name to suit… Yes, now’s the part where we talk about Stranger Things.
In mid-2016, Netflix released a TV series, Stranger Things, which revolves around a young character whose favourite food is the Eggo waffles. This show was incredibly popular and gave cultural relevance to the aging brand. Even countries that didn’t know about or even did not sell Eggo’s suddenly knew about Eggo’s! But what did Eleven’s waffle enthusiasm mean for the bottom line?
Well, after the show had managed to gain traction, at their peak Eggo’s experienced a whopping 14% increase in sales (last quarter of 2017). Chief Executive Officer, Steven Cahillane, commented: “When Eggo waffles became a fixture on the hit show ‘Stranger Things’, we quickly leveraged the [resulting] consumer engagement… It sparked conversations. And it prompted consumers to reconsider a long-established brand in new and very contemporary ways.”
It’s been almost four years since the show’s release. While sales have gone down again, you can’t help walking past Eggo’s boxes and thinking about Eleven in Stranger Things. With varieties ranging from homestyle to blueberry, apple cinnamon to chocolate chip, no one would blame you for stopping to grab a pack. For some, the Eggo waffles might even inspire you to find fresh ones. Whatever your choice, and however you decide to dress them, we hope you enjoy National Waffle Day as much as Eleven would.