How’d you like your eggs, hon? With waffles.

During my visit to the Mississippi coast last week, I was taken aback by the number of Waffle Houses I spotted.

If you’ve ever been down South you probably recognize Waffle Houses by their bright yellow color and big picture windows. While they are open 24/7, the zero hour for them is whatever closing time is in their area. Since there are a dozen or more casinos on the coast that are back up and running since Hurricane Katrina, the diners are probably hopping at least some time throughout the day.

Many Waffle House diners are a favorite for those seeking “drunk food.” Some say eating a greasy early breakfast after an evening of drinking helps “soak up” the alcohol. I doubt that is the case but eating and drinking coffee helps make one a well-fed and wide-awake drunk.

I don’t know what the alcohol sales laws are in Mississippi these days. Back when I was stationed at the Navy Seabee base in Gulfport during the late 1970s, the general statute was that one must be 18 or older to buy beer and wine, and age 21 and up to buy liquor. I am sure that has changed as for age, but I don’t know about the hours legal for consumption. I remember drinking beer at sunrise in the bar where my late friend Betti worked. That is kind of like Louisiana laws where, at least in my younger days, one must only show that they were alive.

Map through Creative Commons. Copyright By Nik Freeman
Map through Creative Commons. Copyright By Nik Freeman

Waffle Houses are more than just a “Southern thing” or curiosity. Since they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the stores serve as a gauge for FEMA during disasters. If Waffle House is closed, things have got to be bad.

I came across this map by a geographer named Nik Freeman that shows Waffle Houses by density in “quads,” or quadrants, on U.S. Geological Survey maps. This information is run here courtesy of Mr. Freeman through Creative Commons. Freeman was able to figure where the most Waffle Houses were located. The top 21 quads showed the Atlanta area with 132, Fort Worth was fifth with 25, and the lower end of the top 21 was a tie with Raleigh, N.C., Little Rock, Gulfport, Biloxi and Pensacola all with 16 Waffle Houses each.

Although this information was compiled in 2012, the data helps show that I was not imagining Waffle Houses were everywhere in the Gulfport, Biloxi area. As a matter of fact the Gulf Coast from Gulfport to Pensacola (via Alabama) contained a whopping 86 Waffle Houses over a width of only about 100 miles. If you go “down South jukin’ and lookin’ for a peace of mind,” as Lynyrd Skynyrd suggested, at least you’ll find waffles and eggs cooked to order. You will also find some nice waitress who will call you, “hon.”

Whether you are jukin’ or just drunken head to the Gulf Coast and find the nearest Waffle House. You’ll have no trouble finding one.


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