Spend any time looking at Keto or other low carb-related Instagram accounts, blogs, or Facebook pages, and you'll be inundated with videos, how-tos, and lots of images of #chaffles.
These ultra low-carb waffle-like foods are, in their simplest form, made from grated mozzarella cheese and an egg, beaten together and then cooked in a miniature waffle iron ("cheese" + "waffle" = "chaffle"). Chaffles can be both savory or sweet — cooks are adding everything from bacon and cheddar to cocoa powder, sweetener, and cream cheese.
Depending on the skill of the chaffler, as well as the size and shape of the waffle iron, the resulting "waffles" look more or less like Eggos. In order to achieve such a shape, a Dash Mini Waffle Maker is required, and you better believe affiliate links for those babies are currently flying around the blogosphere. The mini waffle maker memes have followed quickly behind. (You can, of course, make a chaffle in any old waffle iron, but they do seem to work best cooked in small batches on a nonstick surface.)
Chaffles seemed to appear out of nowhere, but if one was to spend a few minutes (okay at least 15 minutes) loading all Instagram pictures tagged #chaffle, you'd see that the Keto version is really just the latest iteration of the name.
The first #chaffles were, believe it or not, vegan and definitely not low carb. These chaffles, riffs on gigantic churros ("churro" + "waffle" = "chaffle"), originated at Seabirds Kitchen, a vegan taco restaurant in Southern California. Seabirds' chaffles are coated in cinnamon sugar and topped with vegan ice cream and various sweet syrups. The restaurant first posted about its chaffles in 2015, its first hashtagged post showed up in 2016, and the dish is still on the menu today, in all its cinnamon-sugar glory.
(It should be noted that the O.G. vegan chaffle has also been documented quite frequently on Instagram; its popularity may be currently downed out by Keto chaffle mania, but that doesn't mean it isn't trendworthy on its own.)
More recently, restaurants in both Japan and Iran have developed their own #chaffle. The Japanese version is miniature and almost taco-like; inside are fillings such as green tea cream and red bean paste. These Japanese chaffles are bites served alongside hot tea ("cha" ("tea" in Japanese) + "waffle" = "chaffle").
The Iranian chaffle? It's unclear where the name comes from (anyone read Farsi and wanna help a girl out?) but they're definitely the most over-the-top of the bunch. Mostly shaped into oversize cones made from Hong Kong-style egg waffles, these chaffles are filled with ice cream, candy, and a cascade of other sweets.
What is now considered a #chaffle seems to have originated on the Instagram account of @keto_ki, aka Kiana Fonua Williams, a Keto trainer and meal planner based in Utah with a sizeable Instagram following (18K). Her original post, dated May 16, was a picture of "Easy Cheesy Waffle omelettes," which included a short recipe in the caption and a video in her Instagram story feed. It lacked a hashtag and a cute name, so it slowly simmered on the internet for a couple of weeks, until fellow Utahan @ketomadman (49.5K followers) posted about it on June 5. He added the cute name and hashtag, and the summer of the #chaffle had begun.
There are currently close to 8000 posts tagged #chaffle, a little over 4000 tagged with the related plural, #chaffles, and about 300 tagged #chafflerecipe, making this trend 12K posts strong, even if you subtract the handful of tagged images of the non-Keto chaffles. This does not count the likely hundreds, if not thousands, of attempted chaffles that didn't make it to the internet or those posted on other social channels.
That's a lot of chaffles and a lot of mini waffle makers that'll likely begin to gather dust as soon as the next recipe craze hits.
Now, we're not the kind of folks to dissuade anyone from enjoying a chaffle or two, and if that's your jam, well, more power to you.
But, let's be real for a second. Chaffles aren't actually waffles. As @keto_ki first described them, they're cheese omelets cooked in a waffle maker. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but that doesn't exactly make a chaffle a miracle food.
Even more real? Pouring syrup on a what is actually an omelet or, worse, using an omelet as an ice cream cone (!) is just ... weird. (Savory pizza chaffles, with pepperoni inside and often more cheese on top? Those actually make sense.)
A far better solution is to just, well, eat a waffle.