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Squid #348
(published September 20, 2007)
Ask the Giant Squid: Which is Better, Waffles or Pancakes?
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

I am now needing your advice. What is better: waffles or pancakes? This has split my crew into two smaller feuding crews. Please would you tell us what is truly better. Also, do you fear the Cracken?

Thank You,
Anonymous the Pirate

Dearest Anonymous Thief of Mercy,

It is always* my pleasure to offer you aid in the management and advancement of your crew.

There are two principal bases on which to judge the efficacy of a breakfast cake.

The first is structural, and on this ground the waffle reigns supreme. The three basic structural criteria of note are density, surface area, and regularity, and in all three it is the waffle who stands out:

Density: Presuming an identical initial batter, the waffle — having been mechanically pressed and evenly, symmetrically heated, will always be possessed of a greater density than the pancake, with a firmer surface, thus imparting to it the greater structural integrity associated, in the vernacular, with "waffling."

Surface Area: An equal portion of batter might produce a pancake or waffle of a given circumference X and nominal thickness (that is, the depth-of-cake as observed from the edge) Y, nonetheless the pattern-of-tread upon the waffle will result in nearly three times the surface area. The result is not simply a more structurally rigid breakfast baked-good, but also allows for better syrup and butter penetration (for those who eat of the cakes) and serves to better distribute oncoming force (for those who choose to use waffles in constructing a battlement, defensive embankment, or breakwater.)

Regularity: Owing to the variability of skillet temperature, batter velocity, and kitchen technique, pancakes are enormously variable in their form, which can lead to both household and poop-deck strife as members of the cohort (be they family, friends, or scurvy crew) vie for the finest, largest, or most comely cake. The waffle, by contrast, is a paragon of the Industrial Revolutionary appreciation for the efficiency of mechanization: each and every waffle produced by a given iron is, for all intents and purposes, an interchangeable cog in the breakfast machine, indiscernible from its fellows.

In short, when it comes to the rational selection of a morning's baked-starch, while the lover of the pancake embraces guile, subterfuge, arbitrage, and a willful ignorance of the true costs and benefits inherent in his Dionysian repast, the dedicated waffler is the ne plus ultra of Apollonian reason, as is clearly indicated in the following chart:

Avram Lincoln (Ex-President) George the Double-Yew Bush (Ex-President, President Emeritus)
A. Albert Einstein (Natural Philosopher) Michael Richards (Ex-comedian)
Hedy LeMar (bathing beauty, cellular telephony inventor) Bill of the Hicks (Comedian, deceased)
The Watchmaker (diest diety, deceased) Joseph Goebbels (publicist, film hobbiest)

The second basis for breakfast selection is aesthetic, and here matters get the sticky on their wickets, for fashion is a fickle master, and a petulant, pouting mistress, lips red as slips of liver, eyes flashing and depthless, the lash clenched in one hand, and the dandelion puffs in the other. While it is true that the pancake has enjoyed a long recent vogue, it pays to note that it was the waffle that Lindbergh wore proudly pinned to his lapel as he crossed the Atlantic, a fumbled waffle which ignited the 1666 Great London Fire, and a ginger and sorghum waffle that General Lee broke across his chromed fender after surrendering his belovéd Confederacy to United States Grant and his steadfast negro companion, Appomattox Courthouse.

But, that by no means is to argue the cultural superiority of the waffle. For example, throughout the Middle Ages clear through to the Dutch Reformation, no self-respecting Neapolitan would begin to hope to imagine appearing publicly without his pancake firmly clapped to his head, held in place against the savage winds of Naples with a cantilevered, whale-bone pancake clasp. Ironically, during that same half-century, Nepal was in the thrall of a veritable waffle mania, with single Belgian waffles fetching unheard of prices in the frigid, windless yak-and-virgin markets of Katmandu's Durbar Square. Waffle speculation, in fact, is credited as the primary — if oft unrecorded — cause of the Nepali Civil War, the echoes of their waffle bubble reverberating down the halls of nearly 400 years of history.

For my part, I do believe that the waffle — though possessed of a wonder-making, and conceivably devastating, power — is the one and only true breakfast galettes. Banish from your ship and port-calls the weak-willed pancake, and drive your partisans' callow pancakery into furtive and powerless skulkery.

As for fearing the Cracken, in short, yes; I fear the cracken. I have attempted, in the past, to craft steel-crocheted pantaloons for the purpose of such defense, but to no avail. In the interim, I have been obliged to avoid at all costs the public bath-houses and resting rooms, for the sake of safety.

One cannot be too safe.

I Remain,
Your Giant Squid

*Readers curious as to prior exchanges with Anonymous the Pirate may wish to examine the following:

Got a Question? Contact the Giant Squid
or check the Squid FAQ

Love the Giant Squid? Buy his first book.

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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