The Belgian waffle is a type of waffle popular in North America identified by its larger size, lighter batter and higher grid pattern which forms deep pockets and has larger squares than the standard American waffle.
No single type of waffle is identified as a 'Belgian Waffle' within Belgium itself, where there are a number of different varieties, including the Brussels waffle, the Liège waffle and the stroopwafel. What is known in North America as the 'Belgian waffle' does not exist in Belgium. It is somewhat similar to the Brussels waffle, but Brussels waffles are hard and crispy on the outside. As opposed to a traditional North American waffle, the Belgian waffle traditionally uses yeast instead of baking powder, although contemporary Belgian waffles are often made with baking powder. In North America, they are often eaten as a breakfast food; toppings vary from whipped cream, confectioners sugar, soft fruit, and chocolate spread, to syrup and butter or margarine. Alternatively, they are served with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit (such as strawberries) as a dessert.
Originally showcased in 1958 at Expo 58 in Brussels, Belgian waffles had their American debut at the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle, WA in 1962. The waffles were further popularized in the United States during the 1964 New York World's Fair at Flushing Meadows Park, USA. The waffle was introduced by Maurice Vermersch of Brussels, Belgium, and was named the Bel-Gem Waffle. Largely based on a simplified recipe for the Brussels waffles, Vermersch decided to change the name upon observing the poor geographical skills of Americans. These waffles were served with whipped cream and strawberries, and retailed for a dollar.