Fried Chicken And Waffles: How Did This Crazy Combo Originate?

Fried chicken and waffles sure sounds odd, but it is very welcomed by the tongue.

The crispy, flavoured chicken skin, the sweet syrup and the fluffy waffle – all get together to form a culinary delight!

But, how did fried chicken and waffles come to be what it is today? In this post, we’re going to break down the history of chicken waffles and when it’s well understood, will bring them together.

Fried chicken & c.

The earliest form of fried chicken is the fricassee. Chicken pieces braised with sauce were popular in the Mediterranean basin in the Middle Ages. All this recipe needed was fat, chicken and an iron pot.

In the 1300s, the French frequasse originated, literally translating to ‘fry and break’. The early French cookbooks were liberal with their choice of meat, but by the 1700s, chicken started being preferred.

Fried Chicken And Waffles: How Did This Crazy Recipe Originate?
Wikimedia Commons / French Recipes

In The Art of Cookery, Hannah Glasse talks of a particular brown fricassee recipe. Coat the chicken with egg, then spiced breadcrumbs, and fry it in butter. Wait, are you getting déjà vu? This fried chicken was then drenched in a savory gravy and enjoyed.

Now, till the 1800s, African slaves used to cook in Southern American kitchens, chicken being a delicacy for them  expensive. They would often read these cookbooks or invent a fried chicken recipe on their own. Fast forward to the American Civil War, fried chicken was sent to the soldiers by women simply because it lasted longer. By then, it had started to be enjoyed without gravy or sauce. 

Restaurants and diners started sprouting in the early 1900s, and fried chicken was always on the menu. Colonel Sanders (ring a bell?) developed the famous fried chicken recipe in the 1940s, and by the early 1950s, his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise (that’sKFC!) was famous and made this delicacy a regular at homes.

Well, the waffle…

Fried Chicken And Waffles: How Did This Crazy Recipe Originate?

The waffle was enjoyed as early as the Middle Ages, too! The bakeries, in their pursuit to compete with the monasteries and their communion wafer, started making waffles. They were made almost the same way wafers were – a thin cake baked between two metal plates. All the waffle called for was flour and water (and eggs and honey for the rich), so it quickly became a popular street food. Even though the history of waffles in America dates back to the Pilgrim fathers, the Belgian waffle was introduced to Americans only in 1964 – requiring no hassle of the metal plates because the waffle iron had finally made an entrance, and fluffier and tastier because of eggs and yeast. There was no coming back from there.

How did fried chicken and waffles come to be?

As incredible as that sounds, FC&W has been enjoyed since the 1660s.

In the Pennsylvania Dutch country, home cooked waffles were enjoyed with a topping of fried chicken and a dollop of gravy.

Fried Chicken And Waffles: How Did This Crazy Recipe Originate?
Wikimedia Commons / Cbl62 (talk)

When Wells’ Supper Club opened in 1936 in Harlem, New York, it became the favourite hangout spot for jazz musicians and the like. They would arrive late after work at Wells’ – too early for brekky, too late for dinner – so they decided to mix up both and ate waffles with fried chicken.

Many other outlets and diners started serving this odd combo, the most famous opening in 1973 by a Harlem native named Herb Hudson, who opened a place solely dedicated to the duo, named Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. And the idea was sold!

From then to now and there to here has been a long journey, but it sure has been flavourful. So many tastes in a bite? Count us in.

Would you like to try Chicken and Waffles? Tell us below.

If you liked reading this, you will love: This Crispy Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bundt Is Heaven On Earth!

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