In response to “Pancakes versus waffles”

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

Here at the Technique, I respect all my fellow editors, writers and photographers alike. We are a talented and intelligent group of young journalists — however, even amongst the best of us, sometimes our opinions are just wrong.

Last semester, Technique staff photographer Tyler Parker published an editorial piece weighing the merits of pancakes vs. waffles, ultimately crowning the waffle as the breakfast king.

Now while I do enjoy a good waffle, and I appreciate his methodical approach, ultimately, I cannot condone his conclusion. It is the pancake, not the waffle, that reigns supreme.

I would first like to call into question the reliability of the author himself, who begins his piece by claiming that he personally believes that “waffles taste better than pancakes.” However, how can this be so when the batters for both dishes are identical? It is well known that many top breakfast brands including Krusteaz and Maple Grove Farms of Vermont sell one powder that can then be used to make pancakes or waffles depending on what apparatus is used to cook them. 

No, Parker does not include this in his final analysis, but this is a point of distinction to note, as it is a clear identification of bias. In this fashion, the categories Parker uses to judge the two: versatility, reliability and customizability, paired with the perspective he takes on them, are inherently biased in favor of waffles. Let us now address these so-called “merits.” 

On versatility, Parker points to the fact that there are more forms of waffles, and while I disagree with his analysis that a waffle cone should be counted as a true waffle, I agree with this point. Aside from the french crêpe, there really are not too many versions of the pancake. 

And ask yourself why is this? In this great country of capitalist innovation, there is an adaptation of nearly everything. 

A simple walk down even the most mundane of aisles in the grocery store will reveal a plethora of “takes” and “reinventions” of the wheel. Why then, has the pancake remained relegated to its initial form? 

The answer is simple: the pancake does not need any adaptations. Its perfectly golden, fluffy center and crispy edges are all we could ever ask for. There have been no “upgrades’’ because there are none to be made, the pancake’s simplest form is also its highest form.

Conversely, the waffle finds so many versions of itself smothered in various fruits, proteins, ice creams, jams and the like  because it cannot stand alone. While the neat “cubbies” are convenient for holding whatever you so choose, the structural integrity of the waffle itself is often called into question for this very reason. 

How many times have you found yourself sat at the table with an unreasonably thick waffle? The only way to take down such a behemoth is to lob it on with as many toppings as one can handle.

The pancake calls for a simpler set of adaptations, if any at all — a delicate sprinkling of chocolate chips here, a dash of blueberries there, topped off with a pad of butter and light pouring of any syrup of choice is all one needs to reach nirvana. 

And we all know that the star of chicken and waffles is that juicy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside chicken! Waffles make a cute side though.

Striking again in the vein of simplicity and on the side of the common man is the technology required to make the pancake, which only relies on a hot surface, any pan and any flipping tool. 

Whereas, the waffle requires an entirely separate apparatus and power source that can be used almost exclusively for waffle making. 

In line with this sentiment, there is no way to choose what size (or thickness) waffle you want, unless you are going to purchase and operate several separate waffle makers of different sizes. 

And we’ve all been there when you don’t have quite enough batter to make another full waffle, but also have too much to wash down the drain. The only alternative is to make a wimpy quarter-waffle or shallow half-waffle. 

Either solution leaves you unsatisfied and yearning for more. The pancake on the other hand, can be customized to be any thickness or size the maker so chooses — simply pour more or less batter.

Onto Parker’s point of reliability, while it may be true that due to the waffle maker, there has been a greater standardization of the waffle than the pancake, I would like to argue that pancake making is an art, a sport, a craft. 

One does not simply, haphazardly sling batter to be crushed between two metal plates, wait for the tell-tale beep and expect mastery. 

No — one must learn the way of the pancake! Anything worth having is worth a little effort. 

At the end of the day, this is a relatively small learning curve to overcome. And be honest here — has a rotation of the waffle machine ever been as oddly satisfying as the perfect pancake flip? 

Now more than ever, it is vital that we engage thoroughly and think critically about the type of society we desire to be — one that succumbs to the gaudy but short-lived promise of the waffle? 

Or one that secures and upholds the blessings of the pancake to ourselves and our posterity?