Probably the most perfect rendition of street food ever created in this nation is the humble corn dog. After all, what could be more convenient to someone taking a stroll than a wiener impaled on a stick, dipped into a thick batter, and deep fried?
The origin for this all-American fast food dates back to the early 1900s when the Wagner Manufacturing Company of Sidney, Ohio created a product they called the “Krusty Korn Sausage Pan.” In marketing their new appliance, Wagner advertised that the popular combination of cornbread and sausage could “be baked together as a full ear of crusty cornbread with a sausage inside.” Then in 1929, the Albert Pick-Barth catalog of food equipment and supplies offered a “Krusty Korn Dog” baker, obviously the Wagner product renamed since “Krusty Korn” was one of their trademarks.
Also in 1929, a patent was granted to Stanley S. Jenkins for a machine used to fry battered food on a stick. In his patent application, he described his invention as follows:
“I have discovered that articles of food such, for instance, as wieners…when impaled on sticks and dipped in batter, which includes in its ingredients a self rising flour, and then deep fried in a vegetable oil at a temperature of 390° F., the resultant food product on a stick for a handle is a clean, wholesome and tasty refreshment… As will be observed the sticks (8), on which the food articles (9) coasted with batter (10) are impaled, function both as a means for suspending the coated articles in the cooking medium, and, also, as handles for holding the articles while being eaten…. If the encased article is a wiener or other partly cooked food, it becomes thoroughly cooked with the batter.”
It wasn’t until the 1940s that corn dogs started gaining national popularity. In 1941, George and Vera Boyington began serving Pronto Pups, a plump, tasty hot dog on a stick, dipped in a special batter and deep-fried, at their Portland, Oregon restaurant. That September, they sold over 15,000 Pronto Pups at the Pacific International Livestock Exposition.
By the summer of next year, Carl and Neil Fletcher, who had experienced the hot dog encased in cornmeal and baked in the shape of an ear of corn while traveling the vaudeville circuit, opened their food booth on the Fair Park midway. They sold their “corny dogs” for fifteen-cents and, despite a slow start, made 8,000 dollars that first year.
In June of 1946, following World War II, Ed Waldmire Jr. began selling his version of the hotdog on a stick (he originally called it a “crusty cur”) at his Cozy Dog House in Springfield, Illinois, based on a similar product he came upon in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The business grew quickly and Ed built his third location in as many years, the Cozy Dog Drive In on Route 66.
Today, corn dogs can be found worldwide, albeit by different names. In Canada, they are known as Pogo Sticks, and in Australia as Dagwood Dogs, Pluto Pups or Dippy Dogs. Argentina refers to them as “panchuckers” that are sold mostly around train stations and the inner country cities.
Corn dog variations are as numerous as the places in which they are sold. Some are made with wieners, breakfast sausages, bratwurst, red-hots, and some with no meat at all. Some use wheat flour or potato-based coatings instead of cornmeal based batters.
You don’t have to wait for the fair, circus, or ball park to open before enjoying this tasty treat. You can simply pick up a box of frozen corn dogs from almost any local supermarket or convenience store, pop them into your conventional or microwave oven, heat, and enjoy. Those more adventurous readers who like futzing around in the kitchen are sure to enjoy one of the corn dog recipes listed below.
So whether you live in the North, South, East or West; buy them, heat them, or make them from scratch; slather them in mustard, ketchup, or a secret dipping sauce, these wieners on a stick are certainly the most DOG-gone convenient and delicious street food found anywhere.