The scrumptiously warm deliciousness of waffles was first introduced to the world as early as in the 14th Century through an anonymous manuscript, called Le Menagier de Paris. The beauty of waffles comes from the perfect combination of flour, milk and eggs to bring together a warm crunchy and filling dish. Internationally, waffles are extremely popular as a mainstream breakfast option, with every family having a unique recipe for their idea of perfection. However, in India, the dish was not as popular until a few years ago. Today, the industry has blossomed and constitutes almost 6-8% of the overall Indian dessert industry.
Internationally, waffles play an extremely important part of all-day breakfast menus in various cafés. From classic combinations, such as maple syrup and whipped cream, to such unique ones as charcoal ice-cream and black waffles, they have great prominence in international markets. They are a popular daily breakfast option, much like the upma or idli in India. However, the introduction of waffles to the Indian market brought forth a new perception towards the popular morning meal.
Indians, generally, prefer savoury dishes in the morning and, therefore, waffles could not make a mark here as strong as in the international markets. Instead, they were viewed as high-end gourmet dessert options, which were earlier available only in 5-star restaurants or cafés. With the globalisation of food preferences of Indian consumers, especially among millennials, waffles have now become replacement for gulab jamuns and rasgullas for them and a form of urban street dessert. Waffles, therefore, owe their growth and popularity to the versatility of the dish from being a breakfast option to dessert — and even a street snack.
Despite the recent trend in healthy and organic diets, waffles have flourished in every market across the world owing to the indulgence factor. Not only are they the favoured dish of foodies, but also of health-conscious people due to such options as multi-grain waffles being available at various places.
In India, millennials are the driving force behind waffles sales as they are more experimental with their food choices. With their exposure to Western culture, the popularity of waffles has grown among this generation, unlocking the potential of the waffles industry in India, leading to national and international brands now having presence countrywide. With pocket-friendly options and unique Indianised combination options, even the older generation now prefers them as dessert.
Finally, an important contributor to the growth of the waffles trend is the Instagram-worthiness of the dish. Instagram is an integral marketing tool for product awareness and customer engagement. People today love taking pictures of their food and sharing it on their online profiles which has given motivation to waffles brands to make their offerings more aesthetically pleasing. Such trends as charcoal waffles, red velvet waffles and such others are the result of this trend, making waffles an even more widely accepted dish.
Thus, with the combined effects of the versatility of the dessert, its aesthetic appeal and its capacity to be Indianised has led to the trend of waffles being one of the prominent trends in today’s F&B industry.
Saurabh Rathore is Founder & CEO, Gobble Me Good