Sunbeam Waffle Maker has been in production for almost a hundred years. While today modern waffle maker is mostly plastic, it was not always like that. Sunbeam use to be the name of quality. From their toaster, to coffee maker, they were the go to company if you wanted quality. This of course applies to their waffle maker.
Their First Flagship waffle maker was known as the waffle witch. While it does share some design characteristic as other waffle iron at that time, their attention to details and engineering is what set them apart. This philosophy of make waffler makers carried throughout the 50’s and 60’s. However, as time went on, consumer taste started to change. No more were quality the utmost importance, but rather price. This article will discuss some of the most popular waffle maker that sunbeam has produced throughout its years.
History of Sunbeam
Sunbeam was started in 1897 by John K Stewart and Thomas j. Clark. At that time, their company was known as Chicago Flexible Shaft Company. They made Sheep shearing and horse trimming machinery. In 1910, they produced their very first sunbeam product called the princess electric iron. They called it sunbeam because they wanted to re brand its home appliance business.
In the 30’s they came out with three flagship home appliance. The Toastwitch, the Mixmaster and the Wafflewitch. While the Toastwitch and the Wafflewitch did not have much success. However, the mixmaster flourished. It was an relatively affordable mixer that the majority of Americans could afford. Much more price orientated than the leading competitor at its time, Kitchenaid.
As time went on, the company went through many boom and bust. They were even investigated for fraud and faced bankruptcy. Thankfully, the company pulled through. Unfortunately, these days companies are more focused on price and profits. This of course had an effect on the quality of product. They simply lack the build quality of its older sibling.
The waffle witch was released in the 1930 as one of Sunbeam Premium line up. At that time, it had a price of 19 dollars, not cheap considering it was during the great depression. It promised an easier and more cleaner way of making waffles.
One of the adverts stated “No Longer need you have the mess and inconvenience that has always been a part of waffle making. The new sunbeam wafflewitch has grids, butter bowl, and ladle — Everything you need –all in one”.
Quite a fascinating statement and this type of advertisement will probably hold up today. The convience and ease factor is still in the minds of American these days. And what they advertised is true. The Wafflewitch had grids for defined waffle, a batter bowl just below the hot iron and a ladle that is perfect for a singular waffle.
While appearance wise, the wafflewitch looks very similar to other waffle iron of the era. The inclusion of the batter bowl and ladle is what set them apart. This bowl can either be removed or left in place. If you should need to get the bowl, you can actually rotate the iron to the side. How it was held in place was just a simple notch on either side. This lets your family sitting on the other side of the table make their own waffle. Quite an ingenious design.
On the top of the Wafflewitch, there is a thermostat that tells you when is the right time to pour in the batter. But really, it was just a dial and responds to temperature of the grill.
On either side of the iron, there are either wood or bakelite handle. The iron itself will get hot with use. So it is advisable to always hold the iron by those point. To life the iron also, there is a handle there that I recommend to use as well.
If you have a well used iron, expect the stainless steel to be black. While it does look disgusting, which it is in my opinion, this black coating is what makes it nonstick. This is the same time of seasoning that cast iron lover have on their pan. While you can strip it, I do not recommend doing so. Teflon was not in use at the time.
Issues and Dangers of the Wafflewitch
Some of the issue that the Wafflewitch is susceptible is the bubbling of the chrome. Instead of polished stainless steel, they use a chrome plating on the metal. If you are unlucky like I was, you will have a significant amount of bubbling. In fear of it being rusted, I removed a portion and only found dust underneath. However, I did find rust on the base plate of the iron. If you intend to keep it, I recommend that you take care of the issue.
The heating element is quite simple as well. Power connects to the wall socket and heats up a metal iron on the top and bottom of the waffle iron. I would take care if you are to use this. If the cords is damaged or frayed, it can electrify the whole iron, giving you a shock or potentially killing you.
You should also be careful of the wire itself. As during that period, asbestos use was quite rampant. They would use it as a heating insulator for the wire. If you do try and replace it, I recommend buying some proper protection.
Sunbeam Waffle Maker Model W-1 & W-2
Fast forward to the 1940’s. Sunbeam came out with a new product, the Sunbeam W-1. No longer was waffle maker a single serving round waffle. But rather, you get four thick cut square waffles, all in one go. This means that you can now make more with less effort.
The advert at that time stated that ‘No waiting “between Waffles.’ No Embarrassment over ‘Who’s going to be next.’ You get 4 waffles at a time – four perfect, generous sized waffles, pipping hot ready to serve quickly and easily. Each Section of the sunbeam’s famous four-section waffle has 20 square inches – more than one-half the size of an ordinary round waffle- and the ideal, appetizing size for a single serving”.
I guess this was the advent of oversize portion in America diet. Although I do admit, that a single serving is what is needed to keep me full.
Sunbeam Waffle Maker Model W-1 and W-2 Design
These models come equipped with an all metal construction. The handles were plastic and those were the point that stayed cool. It featured 1200 watts of power ensuring that it gets hot fast and stay hot. Something that very few waffle iron today can do.
The difference between the W-1 and the W-2 is basically the light indicator. When the w-2 is done making the waffle, it will light up. A feature that carry on to later waffle iron. These models were considered to be as close to commercial quality that you can get. In fact, I would argue that these are still better made than most of the waffle irons made today.
Sunbeam CG Waffle Iron
In the 1950, sunbeam came out with a newer model. This was basically the same model as the w-2, but the body is now rounded. This gave it a more modern feel than the square like design of its predecessor. Not only that, it now comes with a removable grids and square accessory plate. The power was also updated to 1250 watts. 50 Watts more than the older model. It was a huge success with consumers and became one of the best selling irons of its era. If you are looking for a more vintage waffle maker, I recommend this model for its versatility and power.
Sunbeam, The Best Waffle Maker in History?
While Sunbeam are still making waffle iron. Their quality is not as it is now. Those older models especially the cg and w2, were some of The best Waffle Maker in history. However, if you were to build something like that today, it would not surprise me if it cost 2-400 dollars. Something that most consumers are not willing to do.
As such, I understand why sunbeam sells the lower quality model. It is at a price point that most consumers are willing to pay for. While I personally would love to see the quality of the old come back, I do understand the choice to produce cheaper waffle maker.
I hope you enjoyed this Sunbeam Waffle Maker Article. If you would like to see more, please visit our Pots and Pans Review page.