Nothing says Valentine’s Day like hearts, except maybe heart-shaped breakfast food. This contraption is one of two waffle irons or “Whorfling Irons” that were listed in an inventory taken at George Washington’s death. Does this mean that George and Martha were rising early to make each other heart-shaped noshes for a romantic breakfast in bed? It’s much more likely that an enslaved cook was using the apparatus for those eating in the small dining room, a frequent gathering place for morning meals. She would fill the waffle iron’s gridded interior with batter and – grasping the long handles – suspend the iron over hot coals, turning it to ensure even cooking. While square waffle irons were more common, heart-shaped irons added decorative appeal.
The waffle iron is one of many extraordinary kitchen gadgets from the Washingtons’ kitchen on view in “Hoecakes & Hospitality: Cooking with Martha Washington,” a new Mount Vernon exhibit opening on February 18, 2012.
Curatorial Research Associate Amanda Isaac contributed to this report.
Object Spotlight is a regular feature that highlights household belongings used by the Washingtons. Check out Mount Vernon’s eMuseum to explore more Washington belongings.
Purchase MVLA, 1939 [W-1057]