If you’ve been to a Waffle House before, you probably realized within a few minutes of sitting down that you needed a contingency plan for when things got ugly. It turns out that Waffle House managers have known this for much longer:
Waffle House’s tenacity and preparedness are so watertight that FEMA Director Craig Fugate has joked that he watches a “Waffle House Index” of disaster magnitude. He can tell how bad a disaster’s been by how much of its menu Waffle House is serving. EHS Today specifies the exact parameters of the index, which gained credence when Washington University Business professor Panos Kouvelis conducted a study on the subject:
For example, if a Waffle House store is open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If it is open but serving from a limited menu, it’s yellow. When the location has been forced to close, the index is red. Because Waffle House is well prepared for disasters, Kouvelis said, it’s rare for the index to hit red. For example, the Joplin, Mo., Waffle House survived the tornado and remained open.
My brother and I had fun on our drive from Texas to NC last month counting the number of Waffle Houses, but we were using it more as an index of how redneck the places we were traveling through were. Based on a sample consisting of I-20 from Shreveport, LA, to Atlanta, it looked like Jackson, MS, was the “winner.”
For more Waffle House fun, here’s Jim Gaffigan: