Remember when I shared about the Vintage Cuisinart that Sam and I bought at an estate sale a few weeks ago? Well, the Cuisinart wasn’t the only toy we came home with. For $5, we became the lucky owners of this still-working vintage Dominion waffle iron. And let me tell you, this thing is a steal.
We were still exulting over finding a working Cuisinart with not three but seven blades when our eyes fell on a hefty waffle iron, once shiny but now covered with dust and smeared with fingerprints. Sam had been researching waffle irons online and discovered that all the reasonably-priced waffle irons were coated with Teflon. We try to steer clear of Teflon, so our waffle iron prospects weren’t promising.
Sam crouched to the floor to lift the lid of the waffle iron. Lo and behold— uncoated stainless steel plates. No Teflon here.
“Does it still work?” Sam asked, looking up at the proprietor of the sale.
“It worked the last time we used it, but that was years ago. You’re welcome to plug it in and see.”
Sam hoisted the waffle iron—it weighs 10 pounds—to the kitchen counter and plugged it in. We continued browsing the estate sale, trying to imagine uses for the mismatched wine goblets arranged on the counter and wondering whether any of the books weren’t too outdated to be interesting. Within minutes the smell of a heater that hasn’t been used for months permeated the apartment. We hurried into the kitchen, opened the waffle iron and held our hands above the plates. I tried to remember the old boy scout rule: how many seconds indicated what temperature? I couldn’t remember, but I knew it was hot enough.
“The plates come out too,” explained the man. “It makes for easy cleaning.”
We hadn’t been scared off by the sheer clunky-ness of the appliance or the burned dust smell coming from it, but the stainless steel waffle plates blackened with years of grease and the crumbs wedged into every crack were indeed something to reckon with.
“Removable plates, huh?” I asked. I looked at Sam and grinned. “Nothing a little Bar Keeper’s Friend can’t handle.”
She was ours, but like most things from the past, required a little decoding. Before we could even think about pulling the flour from the cupboard to make waffle batter, we had to clean those blackened plates. And to clean them, we had to remove them from the waffle iron base.
After fiddling with the knobs and latches on the waffle iron, we used a pair of pliers to pull back a knob, which released a latch holding the plate in place. I quickly pulled off the plate while Sam held the knob with the pliers.
“Whoa!” I whispered, simultaneously amused by the heating element exposed in the waffle iron base—safety hazard?!—and curious about the flat backside of the waffle iron plate. I hadn’t grown up taking apart appliances, but I was pretty sure this is what a seven-year-old feels when his dad gives him an old radio to take apart.
I examined flat side of the plate. The grooves and rim outlining the waffle mold perfectly matched the grooves and rim on the other side and there was a little spout pouring off one side. I couldn’t believe our luck.
“This is a griddle too!” I exclaimed. Waffle iron-griddle combos were apparently not a new invention after all. I set the metal plate on the table and turned my attention to the waffle iron base.
“It has to lay down flat for the griddle to work.”
Commandeering the iron from Sam, I began wiggling the hinge holding the two halves of the iron together. With a simple pull up and back, the top half of the iron laid down flat. Without talking, we began working to remove the plate from the top half.
Having decoded the inner-workings of the waffle iron and tackled the dirty steel plates with a can of Bar Keeper’s Friend and an old toothbrush, we put our waffle iron to the test. This workhorse that had been churning out waffles for years didn’t disappoint us. The waffles were as crisp and golden brown as any I’ve ever tasted, with little canyons ready to catch streams of maple syrup. Maple syrup, after all, is a crucial component of any waffle-eating venture. Our friend the estate sale proprietor put it well: “I love waffles. You know what I love more than waffles, though? Maple syrup. I love maple syrup.” Waffles. Maple syrup. I think I’m ready for another weekend.