Just as important, nonstick surfaces are significantly easier to clean. This also means the waffle iron will last much longer, since you won’t be scratching the iron trying to clean it out. Many experts suggest using some kind of oil (be it butter or something veggie-based like a spray) to help release your waffle from the iron, but even after a few years of testing our non-stick coatings have held up well and we wouldn’t say that oil is necessary. A little bit of butter is very nice, though, and gives some extra crispiness.
Traditional waffle irons are attached to tongs with wooden handles and are held over an open flame, or set on a stove. Most modern waffle irons are self-contained tabletop electrical appliances, heated by an electric heating element controlled by an internal thermostat. There are also two variants of the electric iron: one with removable plates and ones with non-removable plates. Professional waffle makers are usually made of cast iron whereas domestic models are often teflon coated. Many have a light that goes off when the iron is at the set temperature. Most modern waffle irons - particularly cast aluminum ones - are coated with a non-stick coating (e.g. teflon) to prevent the waffles from sticking to them. Cast-iron waffle makers are usually not coated and require seasoning like a cast-iron frying pan.
We’ve covered plenty of brunch-worthy appliances and tchotchkes in the past, including a waffle iron for Instagram-worthy waffles, eggcups à la Call Me by Your Name, the best French presses and pour-overs, and even skillets to make the perfect Chez Panisse–style eggs. Here, we’re doing a deep dive into the best waffle-makers available on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
This did the job, but it sure wasn't streamlined. Here is a photo from a World War II era training pamphlet. The subject was "How to use electrical appliances." Many rural households were just getting electricity due to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the pamphlet was intended to get folks up to speed with the rest of the country. This photo shows the Government-approved method of "seasoning" a waffle iron (you put oil on it and let is burn in, creating the organic equivalent of Teflon). Any vegetable oil will do.
Moving into the 17th century, unsweetened or honey-sweetened waffles and oublies – often made of non-wheat grains – were the type generally accessible to the average citizen. The wheat-based and particularly the sugar-sweetened varieties, while present throughout Europe, were prohibitively expensive for all but the monarchy and bourgeoisie. Even for the Dutch, who controlled much of the mid-century sugar trade, a kilogram of sugar was worth ½ an ounce of silver (the equivalent of ~$7 for a 5 lb. bag, 01/2016 spot silver prices), while, elsewhere in Europe, it fetched twice the price of opium. The wealthier families' waffles, known often as mestiers, were, "...smaller, thinner and above all more delicate, being composed of egg yolks, sugar, and the finest of the finest flour, mixed in white wine. One serves them at the table like dessert pastry."
That non-stick coating and oil combo not only results in pretty waffles on your plate, it also means cleanup is a snap because you won't have to scrub bits of stuck waffle out of the grids. Some electric waffle makers have removable plates that can be tossed in the sink or dishwasher. If you're dealing with an electric waffle maker that doesn't have removable grids, you can't dunk the whole thing for a good cleaning -- so a soft-bristle toothbrush or damp rag are your best cleaning options.
We are including a look at Table Broilers here because they are part of the "make it at the table" ethos that prevailed when electric appliances were relatively rare and consequently tres chic. Wealthy hostesses missed no chance to show off their shiny new appliances. In turn, companies like Manning-Bowman sold appliances that were more like chrome sculpture. When appliances became more commonplace, they were removed from the table and relegated to the kitchen.