Here are two ads that show the Manning Bowman Smokeless Table Broiler in direct competition with the Farberware Broiler Robot. These ads came from facing pages in the September 18, 1941 issue of LIFE magazine, and are a very rare example of head-to-head competition. The Farber item was priced $2 less than the M-B appliance. They were still both expensive! $7.95 and $9.95 in 1941 would be approximately equal to $168 and $210 in terms of 2005 purchasing power. We note that the Manning-Bowman folks were practically "giving away" a very nice serving platter (for an extra $2) if you bought their broiler.
Though some have speculated that waffle irons first appeared in the 13th–14th centuries, it was not until the 15th century that a true physical distinction between the oublie and the waffle began to evolve. Notably, while a recipe like the fourth in Le Ménagier de Paris was only flour, salt and wine – indistinguishable from common oublie recipes of the time – what did emerge was a new shape to many of the irons being produced. Not only were the newly fashioned ones rectangular, taking the form of the fer à hosties, but some circular oublie irons were cut down to create rectangles. It was also in this period that the waffle's classic grid motif appeared clearly in a French fer à oublie and a Belgian wafelijzer – albeit in a more shallowly engraved fashion – setting the stage for the more deeply gridded irons that were about to become commonplace throughout Belgium.
Oil is best for making these; butter just won’t cut it. If you’ve the time to make clarified butter, it works well here. For those of us that haven’t the time to do so for a batch of waffles, feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil. I used sunflower oil, but vegetable, canola, etc. would work well too. For a bit of flavor, coconut oil is a great option.
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.