POST CIVIL WAR MYSTERY- THE ORIGINS OF CHICKEN AND WAFFLES
The exact origins of this dish are unknown, although several theories about its origin exist. During the Civil War fried chicken took on a new significance. The frying process made chicken less prone to spoilage, allowing women to send it to soldiers fighting in the battlefield.
1600’s.. the Pennsylvania Dutch were eating a version of Chicken and Waffles; however, instead of frying their poultry, they used boiled or roasted chicken, which was then shredded and put on top of waffles with gravy instead of syrup
Waffles entered American cuisine in the 1790s after Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of a waffle iron from France. Recipes for waffles and chicken soon appeared in cookbooks. Because African Americans in the South rarely had the opportunity to eat chicken and were more familiar with flapjacks or pancakes than with waffles, they considered the dish a delicacy. For decades, it remained “a special-occasion meal in African American families.”
Some historians place the origin later, after the post-Civil War migration of African Americans to the North. Fried chicken was a common breakfast meat, and serving “a breakfast bread with whatever meat [was available] comes out of the rural tradition.” The combination of chicken and waffles does not appear in early Southern cookbooks such as Mrs. Porter’s Southern Cookery Book, published in 1871 or in What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, published in 1881 by former slave Abby Fisher. Fisher’s cookbook is generally considered the first cookbook written by an African American. The lack of a recipe for the combination of chicken and waffles in Southern cookbooks from the era may suggest a later origin for the dish.
Southern cooking would find its way up North, as slaves—freed after the Civil War—were lured by rumor of better jobs and opportunities. The dish can be found in the 1930s in such Harlem locations as Tillie’s Chicken Shack, Dickie Wells jazz nightclub, and Wells Supper Club
Serving up chicken & waffles”. Los Angeles Business Journal. September 22, 1997. p. 1.