The Four Dollar Yard Sale Waffle Iron

The last real waffle iron I owned was in 1980, back when you didn’t have to get lucky at a yard sale to find one. True, they cost more than four dollars new, but I’m getting ahead of myself. By 2017, I’d been trying for years to find a waffle iron that made real waffles. Not those stuck-up, hoity-toity, can’t stand the sight of ’em Belgian waffles that seem to have taken over the waffle market as surely as a greedy government will pick your pocket. The search was so frustrating. One website did promise to deliver, and their product photo showed the old school version, but when the much anticipated waffle iron arrived…yep, Belgian all the way.


However, giving up after an exhaustive search is often the way to achieve one’s dreams at a moment most unexpected. Not every time; some of our dreams apparently don’t fit the mold. But often enough. I’d finished looking over the Deer Lodge, Montana, Territorial Days and Classic Car Show. Looped around a few blocks to circle past the designated downtown display area, and there was the yard sale sign. Well, why not? I parked, ambled through the gate–in this town a fair number of yards do have real fences with real gates–and almost immediately spotted the waffle iron. Mine, I thought. Hoisting the prize, I asked the homeowner, “How much?”

“I’m just a shopper like you,” he said. “Try that guy up there on the porch.”

“Oh. Okay. How much?”

“Four dollars.”


He even provided a bit of crucial information. “You have to turn it up all the way and then just get the waffles out of there when they’re ready. I tried lower settings and they came out uncooked in the middle.”

“Appreciate the tip.” I grinned, reaching for my billfold. “I’ve been looking for one of these for years. Looks like new! Why are you selling it?”

He shrugged. “I like ’em, but my wife doesn’t, so….”

That made total sense. Pam was tickled when I got home and showed her my trophy. Toastmaster brand, what looks like a fifties power cord in perfect condition, gleaming chrome exterior, not a scratch on the Teflon griddle surfaces. (Which, by the way, measure a full, beautiful nine inches across.) The appliance took up permanent residence on the kitchen counter between the range (which needs to be replaced, another story) and the refrigerator.

Chrome beauty.

Highly reflective overhead view.

Awesome REAL waffle grid, not one of those you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me Belgian imports.

Thinking back to 1980, those waffles–cooked during a brief hiatus as a single man between wife #2 and wife #3–were hardcore, made from scratch, whole buckwheat flour with home canned choke cherry syrup. Unbelievably good. But forget that; who has the time as a married dude to duplicate what he did when he was single?

Rhetorical question.

This morning, the waffle iron was plugged in to preheat, the Hungry Jack buttermilk waffle mix came out of the cupboard to play, and a mixing bowl got put to work. Following the recipe exactly required two cups of waffle mix, two eggs, 1 1/4 cup of milk, and 1/4 cup of Crisco oil, whisk to perfection and let set a few minutes before making waffles.

Ingredients in bowl. The Hungry Jack label said to “toss” them in there, but that sounded a bit messy, so….

Whisked to perfection. The Hungry Jack label says, “…your batter will be a little lumpy.” I disagree. They must sell to lazy whiskers.


Ready to scoop and pour.

Okay, so it had been 27 years since I cooked a waffle. That’s my only excuse for forgetting to oil the iron, leaving the waffle to stick to both top and bottom surfaces. On the other hand, I’ve been an expert “waffle scraper” since the age of ten. No harm, no foul, and half of the undersized, split-open first effort was still enough to satisfy Pam’s appetite (her being anorexic does help).

This is what happens when you forget to oil the iron.

With the stuck waffle unstuck and consumed, and the four dollar yard sale waffle iron unplugged to cool a bit, it was time to oil the iron…but how? We needed a brush to do it right; never mind Pam’s lament that she didn’t have a can of Pam in stock. The spray can Pam, that is. Which was fine by me; I prefer brush application. Unfortunately, there was no brush in the kitchen…ah! A trip to the garage produced an artist’s paint brush that had never felt the kiss of paint. Brand new.

The artist’s paint brush, reassigned to waffle iron oil brushing duty.

As a youngster, I took pride in making sure the entire grid was filled when pouring waffle batter. Not so today; the appetite that once consumed four Sloppy Joe sandwiches in a row during lunch hour at the school cafeteria is no more. A single scoop of batter is adequate. Besides, the smaller, more rounded waffle fits our paper plates nicely, and we’ve yet to figure out which box contains our stoneware plates.

Didn’t stick this time!

Fred’s breakfast. Never mind the deliberately smaller size; THAT’S a WAFFLE!

Staying power? You betcha; I ran a solid eight hours on this real waffle before tackling my next meal. Belgium, take back your irons!

9 thoughts on “The Four Dollar Yard Sale Waffle Iron

  1. I found one a few years ago that would have been the perfect size for you. It is only two of those squares, but those two are full sized. It came with 4 sets of grill plates. Waffle, grill, griddle, and sandwich toaster. I got it free from Coke, by inputting the codes off the caps. I love it, and use it all the time. My favorite syrup is the blueberry or raspberry. Can’t quite figure out which I love more, so I take turns.
    Believe it or not, my grandmother had a Belgian waffle maker that looked like the one you have. Hers was not non-stick though. It was from the 50s. She had it as far back as I can remember. My uncle snatched it when they were cleaning out the house.
    I had one like yours with a pretty gold color years ago, when the boys were little, but one of the legs got broken off during a move. I managed to get it to work with just a screw, but when another 2 legs broke I gave it up. I could not get it to stay upright.

  2. I’ve never seen a gold colored one; that would be awesome. Pam definitely wants syrups along your line, blueberry, raspberry, etc. She has so little use for non-fruit flavored syrups, including maple, that she’s eating hers dry until we can get around to purchasing the “right stuff.” If I had choke cherry syrup on hand, I’d use nothing else, but of course they don’t sell that in any store I’ve ever heard about. In 1980, I’d spotted a big batch of choke cherry trees right near the road leading to my then-home in the Bull Mountains south of Roundup, MT. Hoping no one would beat me to them when they ripened, Iucked out and picked nearly five full gallons of them one fine August afternoon, then tackled canning them as jam. But I was trying to be a “purist” at the time, used honey instead of sugar, and the pectin couldn’t always get the jam to “set.” So for the jars that stayed runny, I just called them syrup instead of jam…and wow, what a treat on a buckwheat waffle!

    Do think I’ve seen something like the free-from-Coke version you describe. Can’t recall when or where, though.

  3. Its really sad when manufacturers stop making the products we love. So I’m really glad you got the waffle iron you wanted! 🙂 For a moment there I thought you were talking about the stove-top irons, which I used ages ago.
    As for waffles sticking, that happens regularly to me… 🙁 So I turned into more of a pancake person! 🙂

  4. Gold painted Fred. Like the Harvest Gold they used on kitchen appliances for so long. LOL

  5. Becky: Hey, I like the idea of real gold–great fantasy, anyway. 😀
    Manny: Guess we were Uptown Charlie Brown with that one. Waffle iron, that is. I couldn’t say for sure what year we got it, but our ranch home got electricity sometime in my earlier days. No TV or phone, but hey, we had an AM radio!

    I understand taking the path of least resistance and going with pancakes, but for me, fighting the sticking problem is worth it. We had waffles again this morning (from the left over batter) and cooked up the remainder to store in the fridge for Pam to snack on later. Our local Safeway store didn’t have raspberry flavored syrup (my favorite), but they did have boysenberry (Pam’s favorite). Thank you, Smuckers! (Even if you are still using high fructose corn syrup as your number one ingredient.)

  6. Fred, If you go past a Cracker Barrel on the way down, stop in there and get some of theirs. Or they have it at Wal-mart.

  7. Ah. No Cracker Barrels handy on that route, but there’s one in Missoula that’s not far out of route whenever I go down there for other reasons. Thanks.

  8. Looks yummy, Ghost! I love yard sales. Thrift stores, too. You can find all sorts of good stuff for really cheap, as you well know. How serendipitous that this yard sale was right around the corner from the car show!

  9. That truly was serendipitous, Sha. My sister had to smile when I told her about the find. “I wear those out regularly. After all, Mom raise us on them!” (Waffles.) Ours continues to get used regularly, too. Pam likes it best when I load a bunch of frozen blueberries into the batter mix….

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