story by Deborah Bostock-Kelley

Its name may start with Awful, but the product created by its founder Pedro Miranda is definitely the opposite of that adjective. 

Imagine scoops of ice cream wrapped in a waffle, but not the boring indented, square kind you may be used to. The batter becomes a luscious chocolate or vanilla waffle cooked in a spherical mold that gives the convex waffle bubbles. In laymen’s terms, it could be described as an inside-out waffle.

In this puffed-out waffle, choose your toppings ranging from fruit and nuts to marshmallows, chocolate, cookies, candy, sprinkles, and cereal. Add your sauce, whipped cream, and a cherry, and you’ll have a delicious, inventive treat from a magical and aromatic shop in Carrollwood called Awful Waffle.

The love story of Awful Waffle goes like this:

Bubbles the Awful Waffle was meant for greater things than a center shelf of a supermarket freezer. It had fun, crunchy bubbles while its friends were flat and square. Unfortunately, Bubbles was unhappy just sitting in a cardboard box waiting to get picked from the frozen food aisle of the market. Thankfully, the other waffles never made it feel different because being true to who you are is what makes you so special. Bubbles gazed dreamily across the aisle and fell madly in love with ice cream.  Ice cream came in yummy flavors and wore sprinkles like nobody’s business. The feelings were mutual, and Ice cream melted any time Bubbles flashed his scrumptious smile. One day, Awful Waffle discovered their magical combination and knew they were destined to be together.

Pedro, the mastermind behind this sweet romantic pairing and a past weekend market fan-favorite, with a thriving shop already in International Plaza, recently moved his downtown Tampa flagship location opened in 2019 to be closer to home in Carrollwood.

“I was inspired by a bubble waffle I tried in Mexico. I knew if I could make it better, this would be a great treat to bring back home to Tampa, and especially to my neighbors in Carrollwood.”

Pedro tested and retested his bubble waffle batter until the combination became his signature batter.

“It took 3 months to marry the perfect blend of ingredients,” he said.

Flavors for these tempting treats include “Tough Cookie,” a chocolate bubble waffle filled with cookies and cream ice cream, Oreos, mini Oreos, crushed Oreo cookies, gourmet chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.  “Berry Rebellious” is a vanilla bubble waffle served with strawberry ice cream, organic berries, gourmet berry sauce, and whipped cream. These are but two of many creative combinations.

In addition to bubble waffle cones that would give Willy Wonka a run for his money, Pedro also serves bubble waffle cone matching milkshakes and waffle pops. This hearty chocolate or vanilla strip of your childhood favorite hot Belgian rectangular waffle is cooked on a stick and covered in various toppings from nuts to bacon and cereal. 

Salty Pig’s waffle pop combines a chocolate waffle, chocolate melt, and crushed pecans with cooked bacon, caramel sauce, and chocolate sauce. Crunch Berry is a vanilla waffle pop, vanilla melt, corn flakes, maple syrup, berry sauce, and organic berries. 

The combination possibilities are a varied as Pedro’s customers.

Any bubble waffle or waffle pop can be completely customized to be a decadent as you’d dare.

If you don’t quite have a sweet tooth for either, Pedro offers a lighter option made from just the bubbles of the waffles. Like its big brother, it is available in chocolate or vanilla bubbles and is complemented by your choice of dipping sauces. 

If that’s not enough indulgence, Pedro’s second vision, Popculture Specialty Popcorn, adds another heavenly component. With original artisan, made-in-house popcorn flavors ranging from the beloved movie-style popcorn to more unusual like dill pickle, salt and vinegar, sriracha cheddar, s’mores, red velvet, and birthday cake, Popculture features 15 uniquely-named flavors.

Pedro even suggests designing your personalized combination of bubble waffle and popcorn and is open to suggestions for additional tasty flavor profiles.

Open seven days a week, Pedro is excited about supplying the Carrollwood community with a delectable fusion of sweet and savory to satisfy all customers’ tastes.

“It’s our goal to serve you not only fun, indulgent treats, but to make Awful Waffle and Popculture a place synonymous with smiles and creating new memories with family, friends, and coworkers,” he said.

Pedro is giving away an opportunity to win an entire year of free bubble waffle cones to celebrate his newest Carrollwood location. Simply visit the shop between now and December 15, go online to www.awfulwaffleus.com, complete the registration form, enter your receipt number, and sign up to win. A random drawing will select the winner and be announced on social media on December 31, 2021.  Beginning in January 2022, the winning customer will enjoy a bubble waffle cone of their choice each month through December 2022. 

Awful Waffle and Popculture Popcorn are located at 4920 Newkirk Drive off Northdale. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 4:30-9 PM, Friday, 4:30 – 10 PM, Saturday 2-10 PM, and Sunday 2-9 PM.  To learn more, visit awfulwaffleus.com and popculturepopcornus.com.