PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — When Oprah revealed her much-anticipated list of favorite things earlier this week, it included a stovetop waffle iron that a Pflugerville man created in his spare time.
Mike Bradford said sales of his Wonderffle waffle iron spiked, simply because of its inclusion on Oprah’s list. The cookware allows people to make stuffed Belgian waffles and has a built-in tool to easily transfer them onto a plate after about 10 minutes of cooking time.
“I sold about 50% more the first day than I had ever sold in my best month to date, so that was pretty exciting,” Bradford said. “The second day was even greater than the first. I don’t know what the trend is going to be over the course of the month, but I will attest to an Oprah effect.”
Bradford said Oprah’s team first contacted him this summer and expressed interest about including the Wonderffle on her holiday list. Because they had to test out the product themselves, he sent them one — the last waffle iron he had in stock, in fact, because supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the arrival of a new shipment after he sold out in February.
“I was excited, but you never know how you know how something is going to be received by the public,” he said. “The biggest concern now that I have, though, is inventory. I don’t know if I’m going to last the holiday season. Now I have another shipment coming in, but it’s always that timing. You don’t want to have a gap at all during this time of the year.”
The idea for the Wonderffle, Bradford explained, came after he saw someone eating chicken and waffles at a restaurant during his lunch break in downtown Austin. He still works full-time as a software developer, yet the waffle irons have become a successful side hustle for the time being.
“This is one of these kind of aha moments, where you see something and you have an idea,” Bradford said. “I saw a plate of chicken and waffles, and I started to think how large the plate is and how much food is there. I was up there for a lunch break, so it’s not something you can take on-the-go easily. So I wondered, ‘Is there a way to make waffles like a sandwich and something that you could take on-the-go?'”
Tapping back into his mechanical engineering degree, he developed a prototype using a 3D modeling software after not really finding a waffle product like the one he imagined in his mind. After a lot of changes to get the product just right, Bradford said he’s now sold about 5,000 Wonderffles since 2018.
“The idea is that this allows you to eat [a waffle] like a sandwich so that you can take it on-the-go, or you can put all kinds of fun stuff with it that you normally wouldn’t do on a normal waffle,” he said. “It becomes more like a sandwich maker. Some people even call it like a panini press, so it’s just a new way of envisioning a waffle and being able to enjoy a waffle.”
Bradford said his wife and four children have acted as official taste testers over the years, helping to figure out what they can cook inside the waffles. What’s also been fun, he said, is seeing the combinations that customers have created, too.
“I saw someone who made a meatloaf and stuck an entire one inside of a waffle. That blew me away,” he said, laughing. “I never thought like meatloaf, but it really looked great — gravy, everything inside of it. It was pretty cool.”
One version of the Wonderffle stuffed waffle iron sells now for $49, while another model made from cast iron goes for $59.
Bradford said he’s in the process of potentially adding more products to the Wonderffle line and considering moving the manufacturing of it to the U.S. He also hopes sharing the story about how he came up with the waffle iron will make others take a chance and pursue ideas of their own.
“I hear all the time people saying, ‘Oh, why didn’t I think of that?’ Well, you did think of it,” he said, smiling, “so try to jump at the chance to be able to develop it.”
The Wonderffle is part of Oprah’s largest Favorite Things list yet, which is available to view in full on Amazon. For the past seven years, Oprah has partnered with the online giant to share this list.