The Jaffle Iron was designed and named and patented in Australia in June 1949 by Dr. Ernest E.Smithers, a Bondi medico who moved to the Little Bay Hospital post-1945.
When it was first advertised in 1949, the device was described as a “pressure toaster”, perhaps to trade off the idea of the pressure cooker.
Its advantage was that the edges of the bread were pressed together to contain the hot filling.
The jaffle iron was embraced with some fervour.
There were even cookery demonstrations showing how to use it and the device cropped up frequently as a desirable prize at shows, social events, and the odd charity “do”. Sadly, it could also become a weapon.
An Illawarra Daily Mercury headline in December 1953 screamed ‘Wife hit husband with “Jaffle Iron”; fined £3’.
Jaffles were touted as “the latest cookery creation for all the family to enjoy”.
They were considered trendy enough for entertaining as well.
Before long, food manufacturers latched on to the craze. In 1950, grocers were advertising “Edgell Bologanaisse (sic) Mince Beef and Spaghetti – 1/11.
A New Line for the Jaffle Iron.” The irons were available in single and double models and were obviously treasured
. A wistful note in Mount Gambier’s Border Watch in 1950 offers a reward for a lost one.
Similar devices were available in America, perhaps as early as the 1920s.
In the USA they are called pie irons, pudgy pie irons, or “tonka toasters”.
An electric version was patented in 1924 by Charles Champion of Illinois. He also invented the machine for making popcorn.
An electric sandwich maker was produced in Belgium in the early 1970s.
For a short time the Australian company, Breville, distributed these but problems with supply led to the company developing its own toasted sandwich maker.
The Breville Snack & Sandwich Maker became a huge success in Australia and in Britain, to the point where, in many places, a jaffle is actually called a “Breville”.