If you've never eaten at a Waffle House before, have you really lived at all? The iconic southern chain is known for its hospitality, tasty food and bright yellow signs, but mostly it's recognized as the best place to stuff your face when hunger strikes at 4am. Yes, while the rest of us are sleeping, the workers at Waffle House are always ready to whip up some eggs at a moment's notice.
If you're in love with Waffle House (and all it takes is one visit) you'll want to check out these 9 surprising facts about the chain. It turns out these restaurants have a long and surprising history.
1. It takes a lot to feed America...
Waffle House is one of the single biggest buyers of American produce, and their efficiency also means they crank out more meals than almost any restaurant chain on the planet. More than 2% of all eggs in America wind up being sold to Waffle House, while they serve 4 t-bone steaks every minute.
2. ...and they have the numbers to back it up
If you visit Waffle House's website, you can learn some staggering facts about how much food the restaurants prepare.
Each year they cook up enough bacon to wrap around the equator, and enough sausage patties to stack them 4 times the height of the Empire State Building.
As for coffee, Waffle House pours out 8 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of the brown stuff every year. Thank goodness for free refills!
They've also cracked 2,501,866,574 eggs since 1955, just in case you were wondering!
3. The founders were neighbors
Joe Rogers and Tom Forkner, the original Waffle House owners, not only lived together but also both worked at the Toddle House restaurant chain. They dreamed of opening a restaurant that put customers first, and pulled it off on Labor Day 1955 when the first restaurant opened for business.
4. The government measures natural disasters using the "Waffle House Index"
Like the postal service, Waffle House stays open despite rain, sleet or snow 24 hours a day, all 365 days of the year. They'll even keep serving a "limited menu" if some of their appliances aren't working.
Because they're so hard to close, FEMA, the government department that responds to natural disasters, uses the "Waffle House Index" to check how bad things have gotten. Green means the chain is still open, Yellow means they're on a limited menu, while Red means they've actually closed their doors.
Click the next page to learn the psychological trick behind the Waffle House name!
5. What's in a name?
Rogers and Forkner weren't crazy about waffles, but when they opened the original restaurant their were 16 items on the menu. Waffles were by far the most expensive, so to recoup the costs they named the eatery Waffle House, hoping it would trick people into ordering them.
6. There's some not-so-secret lingo
Short order cooks have their own special codes, but Waffle House takes them a step further. Customers in the know can request customized dishes if they learn what to ask for.
"Smothered" means covered in onions, while "covered" is topped with cheese. There's also "capped" (mushrooms), "diced" (tomatoes) and "peppered" (peppers, duh). Ordering a dish "scattered" means spread over the grill, while "all the way" adds everything.
7. It's all about customer service
Waffle House was founded with the customer in mind, and that core principle can still be seen today. Servers are trained to interact with customers and greet regulars by name. Waffle house will even hold packages for you until you can pick them up, how neighborly!
8. No, they don't bury any keys
There are a few urban legends inspired by how these restaurants are always open. Yes, there are locks on the doors (you can see for yourself) and no, they don't bury the only key to the restaurant under the sidewalk.
9. You can visit the original Waffle House
While it was turned into a Chinese restaurant for a few years, the original Waffle House location in Avondale Estates, Georgia has been restored to its 1960s condition, and visitors can book a tour to get a closer look. Each guest even gets to make their own waffle, as an edible souvenir.
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