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Q: History of Wafers ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: History of Wafers
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bentsedef-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 05 Feb 2005 08:03 PST
Expires: 07 Mar 2005 08:03 PST
Question ID: 469414
I need information about the history of wafers. Who invented it? What
was the original form? How did it change during the years?
In the answer - I need references to the information, since this is an
academic work.

Clarification of Question by bentsedef-ga on 05 Feb 2005 08:08 PST
I forgot to mention - I need information about the food wafers. Not
the silicon wafers in the computers industry...
Subject: Re: History of Wafers
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 05 Feb 2005 13:49 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi bentsedef,

Thank you for a very intesting question.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary - Wafer

Main Entry: 1wa·fer 
Pronunciation: 'wA-f&r
Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old North French waufre, of Germanic
origin; akin to Middle Dutch wafel, wafer waffle
1 a : a thin crisp cake, candy, or cracker 


A brief history of the cookie?

"Biscuits can be traced back to the second century in Rome. Biscuits
then were hard, and thin wafers, which had a low water content. They
held very little moisture and so they were the ideal food to store, as
they wouldn't turn to mould quickly."


History of Cookies

"7th Century A.D. - The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to
date back to 7th century Persia A.D. (now Iran), one of the first
countries to cultivate sugar (luxurious cakes and pastries in large
and small versions were well known in the Persian empire). According
to historians, sugar originated either in the lowlands of Bengal or
elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Sugar spread to Persia and then to the
Eastern Mediterranean. With the Muslim invasion of Spain, then the
Crusades and the developing spice trade, the cooking techniques and
ingredients of Arabia spread into Northern Europe.

From the web site, How Sweet It Was: Cane Sugar from the Ancient World
to the Elizabethian Period, by Brandy and Courtney Powers:

In 510 BC, hungry soldiers of the Emperor Darius were near the river
Indus, when they discovered some "reeds which produce honey without
bees." Evidently this early contact with the Asian sources of sugar
cane made no great impression, so it was left to be re-discovered in
327 BC by Alexander the Great, who spread it's culture through Persia
and introduced it in the Mediterranean. This was the beginning of one
of the best documented products of the Middle Ages.

By the end of the 14th century, one could buy little filled wafers on
the streets of Paris. Renaissance cookbooks were rich in cookie

1596 - From the 1596 cookbook called Goode Huswife's Jewel by Thomas
Dawson. One of the earliest cookery books for the growing middle
classes in Elizabethan England. This is a square short-cookie enriched
with egg yolks and spices, baked on parchment paper.

To make Fine Cakes: - Take fine flowre and good Damaske water you must
have no other liqeur but  that, then take sweet butter, two or three
yolkes of eggs and a good quantity of Suger, and a few cloves, and
mace, as your Cookes mouth shall serve him, and a lyttle saffron, and
a little Gods good about a spoonful if you put in too much they shall
arise, cutte them in squares lyke unto trenchers, and pricke them
well, and let your oven be well swept and lay them uppon papers and so
set them into the oven. Do not burne them if they be three or foure
days olde they bee the better."


"Anzac Biscuit - This is an Australian army biscuit, also known as an
Anzac Wafer or an Anzac Tile. They are essentially a hardtack biscuit
with a long shelf-life and a substitute for bread. The biscuits are
very hard, and soldiers preferred to grind them up and use them as
porridge. They are known as Australia's National Biscuit. Around ANZAC
Day, these biscuits are also often used by veterans? organizations to
raise funds for the care and welfare of aged war veterans.

1914-1918 - It is certain that they came about during the First World
War (1914-1918). ANAZAC day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand
on April 25. On this day in 1915, the ANZACs (Australian and New
Zealand Army Corps) landed at Gallipoli, and suffered the worst defeat
in Australian military history.

During World War 1, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the
Australian and New Zealand soldiers were concerned for the nutritional
value of the food being supplied to their men. It is said that they
came about due to resourceful of the women in an endeavor to make a
treat for their loved ones that would survive the long journey by post
to the war front, thus enabling families in New Zealand and Australia
to send these biscuits in food parcels to ANZAC troops serving
overseas. The biscuits took two months by sea, with no refrigeration,
to reach the soldiers at Gallipoli. At first the biscuits were called
Soldiers? Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were
renamed ANZAC Biscuits. To keep them fresh and crisp they were packed,
in old airtight tins. The basis was a Scottish recipe using rolled
oats. These oats were used extensively in Scotland, especially for a
heavy porridge that helped counteract the extremely cold climate."


"According to the Arnott Biscuit Company: 

One of the earliest records dates biscuits back to second century
Rome. Biscuit comes from the Latin word 'bis coctum' which means,
'twice baked'. Back then, 'biscuits' were unleavened, hard, thin
wafers, which had a low water content. As they contained very little
moisture they were the ideal food to store, as they wouldn't become
mouldy quickly."

Soldier's Biscuits

The Soldier's Life

Middle of page: See photos of Hardtack and Hardtack 100 years later.

"The staple of the soldier's diet was "hardtack," a hard, tasteless
biscuit that tended to be infested with worms. Soldiers nicknamed
these biscuits "teeth dullers" or "sheet-iron crackers." A few slabs
of Civil War hardtack still exist today and have changed little in
more than 100 years."

Biscuit: The Common Soldier's Staple.


Goode Cookys from Goode Cookery

"During the Middle Ages & Renaissance, small cakes or wafers, such as
Lebkuchen from Nuremberg & Shrewsbery Cakes from England, were the
predecessors of our modern cookie. Many of these cakes were created in
a variety of shapes, sizes, & designs, produced by hand-carved molds
that depicted images of saints, elements of daily life, & period
patterns & motifs."



"Lebkuchen (gingerbread) is first mentioned in old German documents
approx. 600 years ago, and Gingerbread on wafers appears in a 1395
Zinsbuch (rent-roll) of Franconia. The name "Lebkuchen," in the Middle
Ages called "Lebekouche", possibly stems from the middle high German
"lebbe" = sweet or the name "leb" may have been derived from the Latin
word "libum which means "Fladen" or cake. As do the wafers, used for
the host during services, honey cakes and wafer gingerbread most
likely originated in the monasteries. The wafer, consisting of flour
and starch is edible, and has a natural taste. It holds together the
Lebkuchen mass, which contains very little flour to bind it (E. Otto

To make the many candles they needed in the monasteries, the brothers
cultivated fruit trees and kept bees for the wax. By spreading the
dough, made with honey, on wafers, they produced a nourishing and
healthy food. It served well on journeys and was brought to the infirm
and the sick."


14th Century ? The Aztec 

"Cacao wafers, intended to be dissolved as needed, were issued to
soldiers, in order to fortify them during marches and in battle."


Wafer Making

Wafer recipes from 17th and 18th Century

"To make Wafers - From Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus; Or, Excellent &
Approved Receipts and Experiments in Cookery (London: 1658)

Take Rose-water or other water, the whites of two eggs and beat them
and your water, then put in flower, and make them thick as you would
do butter for fritters, then season them with salt, and put in so much
sugar as will make them sweet, and so cast them upon your irons being
hot, and roule them up upon a little pin of wood; if they cleave to
your irons, put in more sugar to your butter, for that will make them


"The Right Dutch-Wafer - From Mary Kettilby, A Collection of Above
Three Hundred Receipts (London: 1724).
Take four Eggs, and beat them very well, then take a good Spoonful of
a Pint of fine Sugar, one nutmeg grated, Cream, and a Pound of Flower,
a Pound of butter melted, two or three Spoonfuls of Rose-water, and
two good Spoonfuls of Yeast; mix all, well together, and bake them in
your Wafer-tongs on the Fire. For the Sauce, take grated Cinnamon,
Sack, and melted Butter, sweeten?d to your Taste."

(see page for pictures, and wonderful historical information on wafers)

Click on 2nd photo left side of page for Georgian confectioner
Frederick Nutt's wafer recipe. (1789)


"Edgar Martin, a young salesman for the Huston Biscuit Company in
Birmingham, began his own business at 2423-25 First Avenue around the
year 1900. The first company building, with a 5,000 square foot floor
plate, was brick and three stories high. In 1907 under the name of The
Martin Cracker Company, the business was sold to American Bakers and
reorganized as the Martin Biscuit Company, producing cookies and
crackers and, at one time, candies. Among some of the company's
products were vanilla wafers, ginger snaps, and moon pies."


Wafer (cooking) - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

"In cooking, a wafer can refer to a crisp, sweet, very thin flat dry
cake which is often used to decorate ice creams. Wafers can also be
made into biscuits with cream flavoring sandwiched between them.

The word also refers to the special wafers made for Catholic or
Anglican Holy Communion services. These holy wafers often have an
image of the crucified Christ imprinted on them."


History of the fortune cookie - folded wafers
"The crispy, arch-shaped fortune cookies, featuring a slip of paper
hidden inside with a prediction or a maxim, are a fun way to end a
good Chinese meal. Strange but true, these folded wafers do not come
from China, as Chinese have no desserts history. Fortune cookies were
born in America, although they do trace back to the Chinese tradition
of exchanging cakes containing messages wishing good fortune on
important festivals or occasions, such as harvest or New Year: between
the 13th and 14th century China was in fact occupied by the Mongols
and the story tells that, disguised as a Taoist priest, the patriotic
revolutionary Chu Yuan Chang distributed traditional Chinese lotus nut
paste moon cakes (that Mongols did not like) after having replaced the
yolk with a secret messages indicating the date of a popular uprising
in Beijing against the enemies. The rebellion was successful thus
leading to the Ming dynasty period."


"Another, actually much better, Nabisco cookie is the 'Nilla Wafer'
(Vanilla Wafers). These are just what the name implies, small round
hard vanilla biscuits with a yummy flavor. Their not really wafers,
but a small round cookie/biscuit that soaks up milk like a sponge.
They are also very good for crumbling up and making a bottom crust for
assorted deserts."


"1928 - Shredded Wheat Company - maker of Triscuit wafers (introduced
in 1902) and Shredded Wheat cereal (introduced in 1892) - is acquired
by National Biscuit Company. National Biscuit Company also acquires
Christie, Brown & Company, Ltd. of Toronto, Canada (established in


The Story of Nabisco

"The name Nabisco first appeared on a new sugar wafer product in 1901."


The History of Bremner Biscuit Company

"In 1905, David Bremner's sons established their own bakery, calling
it Bremner Brothers Biscuit Company. Dedicated to using only the
finest ingredients, they produced the Bremner Brothers Butter Wafer,
the predecessor to Bremner Wafers. In the late 1920's, with the
invention of the internal combustion engine, the truck replaced the
horse-drawn wagon allowing for widespread product distribution.
Production of Bremner products also became more efficient when the
fully automatic band oven was utilized."

"Vanilla wafers were once strictly a southern dish. But today 
people from all over the country use in them in their 
favorite desserts/recipes or to eat straight from the carton 
along with a tall glass of milk or a cup of afternoon tea. 

The flavor of vanilla has always been a favorite with people 
down south, so it is believed that vanilla wafers were made 
in the home well before local bakers began to distribute 
these lightweight and tasty cookies. No one knows the true 
origin of the vanilla wafer, but Nabisco was the first to 
distribute these wafers in grease and moisture-proof cartons, 
which helped to keep our Vanilla Wafers longer and fresher 
than local bakeries. 

A hit with everyone, during World War II the popularity of 
these cookies was put to the test when restrictions were 
placed on sugar by the government. In 1947 once again sugar 
was available and cookie makers were able to meet the 
growing demands for the Vanilla Wafers."


Vanilla Wafers Recipe - AUTHOR: Farmer, Fannie Merritt, 1857?1915


New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) - Candy Wafers



"Originally, all dies were made by hand until the first engraving
machine was purchased in 1914. In 1928, Edward Weidenmiller and his
brother, Emil, pioneered the first cast aluminum baking plates for
Nabisco's Sugar Wafer Cookie. Aluminum was an immediate cost savings
over the old heavy brass plates that cost three times as much to


Ice Cream Wafers & Cones

"Cones and wafers have been associated with the enjoyment of ice cream
for a long time. In fact, the invention of the ice cream cone goes
back to the turn of the last century when Italo Marchiony (based in
New York) had a US patent issued in December 1903 for what he
described as: "like a waffle iron ... producing several small pastry
cups with sloping sides". At the St. Louis Fair in 1904, however,
there was a separate announcement of the 'invention' of the ice cream
cone, hence the actual origin has been the subject of debate ever


"The earliest commercial candy-makers in the United States were Dutch
bakers who sold sugar plums, macaroons, marchpane and sugar wafers."


"Pizzelles, a centuries-old specialty of the Tuscan town of
Montecatini, are a standard at most Italian-American bakeries and
espresso shops.


"You can serve pizzelles just as they come from the pizzelle iron --
as crisp, flat wafers. Or roll them into finger-sized cylinders for a
cookie with Continental flair. To dress up the cylinders, quickly dip
one end into melted chocolate; if you like, sprinkle on some finely
chopped hazelnuts or bits of rock candy before the chocolate hardens.
Serve the cookie "cigarettes" with coffee, espresso, tea or hot


Lastly, an interesting message board discussion can be found at:

In order to make the wafer findings easier, click on your keyboard:
CTRL and F at the same time.

This will bring up a window where you'll type in the word "wafer" 
(without the quotes).  All references will be highlighted.

The contents of the page is a very long discussion - otherwise I'd
post my findings here.


keyword search:

wafer cookie history
wafer recipe history 
sugar wafers timeline
sugar wafer cookie history
vanilla sugar wafer
wafer bakeries


Best regards,
bentsedef-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
The answer included a lot of information about cookies in general,
which is not part of my needs, but included all the information I
needed as well.

There are no comments at this time.

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