Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

What Makes Waffle House a Home Away From Home?

Waffle House has acquired a cult following among Furman students as an icon of Southern culture designed to fit into small budgets and strange schedules. 
Simon Daoudi \\ Unsplash

It is easy to picture the warm light flooding the street, the yellow sign a steadfast beacon against the night. The poster of pumpkin waffles in the windows beckons in the arrival of fall at this off-campus refuge. 

Waffle House has acquired a deep-rooted following among Furman students. Indeed, a chain that refuses to shut its doors during natural disasters is well prepared to deal with the chaos of college life. Yet, what is it about this fast-food restaurant that makes it stand out from the other fast-food restaurants surrounding our campus?

It is impossible to ignore the convenience of Waffle House. With waffles priced below five dollars and full meals priced under ten, it is also an affordable option for students operating under a tight budget. To keep up with their hectic and, at best, confusing schedules, students often desert the traditional timing of meals long before midterm season. Even if you find yourself debating whether your next meal counts as a late dinner or early breakfast, Waffle House will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Even at 2 a.m. on Halloween night, Waffle House was packed with students. 

Freshman Nabila Wilson described her experience this Halloween, saying, “I walk in and everyone is dressed up, because it’s Halloween weekend and it’s so fun. And you could tell everyone had just been from a party, and they were all chatting with their friends, and it’s very fun to just people-watch. But then the place was so full at 2 a.m. that we had to wait to get seated.”

To many Furman students, Waffle House is more than just cheap food on a late night out. There is a no-frills atmosphere that draws in students at their messiest, pajama pants and all. This unpretentious feel makes Waffle House “feel like a very like student experience,” according to freshman Sam Schaich. 

In fact, Waffle House has become such an ingrained part of the student experience, that Schaich’s entire MTH 315 class took a trip to Waffle House with their professor, “Because one of the people in our class, who’s a senior, had never been, and my professor felt like it was a valuable experience.”

Finally, for students living away from home for the first time, Waffle House provides a warm and nostalgic refuge. The Waffle House in Travelers Rest is nearly identical to the thousands of Waffle Houses populating student’s hometowns across the South, creating a nostalgic time capsule of sorts. 

As Wilson said, “I feel like Waffle House reminds you of home because the food is simple. I mean, you can literally make this food for yourself […] but I feel like it’s also nostalgic because it stays the same always.” 

As an iconic symbol of the South, Waffle House has become tied to the complexities of Southern Culture. 

As Ty Matejowsky says in a 2022 interview with Atlanta Magazine, “Some people see the South as a backwoods, hostile place; other people think it’s the greatest thing ever. You have similar dichotomies in the way Waffle House is viewed.” 

This unpretentious chain offers a nostalgic and homey feel, which, paired with breakfast comfort food, can cure homesickness and become a place for new memories to form. 

The mass appeal of Waffle House on campus is a unique reflection of Furman’s combination of Southern culture and college students with the chaos student life entails. Waffle House will continue to hold its place among the best sources of hangover food and the perfect reward for an exhausting night of studying when the library shuts its doors at 1:00 a.m.

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