Where Did the Corn Dog Come From?

Origin and evolution of the corn dog is somewhat covered in controversy and mystique. The earliest known references to food on a stick occurred in the 1920′s. These did not refer to corn dogs as such but to a number of foods that could be skewered and then deep fried. These early references in no way relate to the corn dog as we now know it today, but our present day version of the corn dog relate to its popularization in the 1940′s. Many corn dog stands claim to be the originator or innovator of this popular food item, but a true inventor will probably never be found. Many local vendors still make claims, but their claims seem hollow in the light of reality and don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Corn dogs are generally seen as food on a stick to be eaten on the go, or at times when anything other than a hand held food would not be easily consumed. Perhaps that is why corn dogs are so often associated with fairs and fast food vendors. They simply lend themselves to being eaten on the go, when the need to feed yourself with both hands is very low and the need for flexibility is high. On the go food and fast food has become a vital part of today’s on the move society and way of life.

We even see the corn dog eaten in school lunches daily, despite nutritionists and health experts warning they are not good for us. These items have become the comfort food of more than one generation. Parents are putting them there for their children to eat as they themselves became used to this treat early in their live. Now, with the ease of buying them in the frozen food section of your local grocer, it is simple to make that impulse purchase, be home in a dash, and nuke some goodness. Although they lack the crisp or crunch of a corn dog fried or heated in the oven, immediate pleasure is only 60 seconds away.

For the purists, the tried and trusted way to make a corn dog is to make a corn batter, insert a stick in a hot dog, and deep fry in peanut oil until crispy brown. The traditional condiment is mustard, but in a kids world ketchup is number one, some like relish, others mayo and ranch dressing is not unheard of. Just about anything can be used as a dipping sauce or drizzled over the top. Today, there are almost as many variations as you can imagine. There are mini corndogs, pancake wrapped sausage dogs, and for the knowing crowd trying to impress, the brat dog. This does not include the wide variation of names and combinations that exist throughout the U.S. and Canada, not to mention the rest of the world. You are now able to order your favorite candy bar dipped in corn batter and deep fried almost anywhere in the world where meat and pork products are eaten. The origins of the corn dog may remain obscure, but the impact on the eating habits and preferences of today cannot be ignored and they are going to be with us for generations to come.


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