The brothers behind your favorite frozen waffles took a while to iron out the details of their signature product. Working in their parents’ basement in San Jose, California, in the early 1930s, Frank, Anthony, and Sam Dorsa first whipped up their own brand of mayonnaise. Since the base ingredient of mayonnaise is egg yolks — and the brothers took pride in using “100% fresh ranch eggs” — they christened their fledgling company “Eggo.” Despite launching the business during the Great Depression, Eggo mayonnaise sold like hotcakes, motivating the Dorsas to extend their product line. Soon, they were selling waffle batter — another egg-based product. To simplify shipping, they also whipped up a powdered mix that required only the addition of milk.
When the frozen food industry took off in the 1950s, the brothers wanted to take advantage of the rush to the freezer aisle. Frank Dorsa (a trained machinist) repurposed a carousel engine into a rotating device that could anchor a series of waffle irons, each cooking a breakfast treat that was flipped by a factory employee. The machine allowed Eggo to prepare thousands of freezer-bound waffles per hour. These debuted in grocery stores in 1953 under the name Froffles, a portmanteau of “frozen” and “waffles.” Customers referred to them simply as “Eggos,” and the Froffles moniker was dropped within two years. Now a Kellogg's-owned brand, Eggo serves up waffles as well as other frozen breakfast treats, with mayonnaise — and the name Froffles — but a distant memory.
When Blue Ribbon Sports — the company that became Nike — was founded in 1964 by Phil Knight and his former college track-and-field coach, Bill Bowerman, its original business model was importing Japanese sneakers to sell in Oregon and California. Yet Bowerman had been experimenting with cobblery since the 1950s, and in 1970, he challenged himself to create a light, comfortable shoe that would give his athletes the traction to run on various surfaces. One morning, as Bowerman’s wife, Barbara, used their waffle iron, he began to brainstorm, deciding that a 3D lattice pattern could cushion runners’ steps. From his in-house lab, Bowerman retrieved the chemicals that form urethane, a type of rubber. Then he poured his mixture straight onto the hot waffle maker. The waffle design that eventually resulted was patented in 1974, the year Nike began selling its rubber-soled Waffle Trainer. In 2019, a pair of Bowerman’s unworn prototypes — the Nike Waffle Racing Flat "Moon Shoe" sneakers — sold at auction for $437,500.