Corn dogs: Like most other US fried food on a stick, America’s batter-fried weiner wands have state fair connections. Vaudeville actors Carl and Neil Fletcher abandoned their Dallas song-and-dance act tent show in 1938 when the Texas State Fair offered them the chance to operate a food booth. The two had read about a man in the Oaklawn neighborhood of Dallas who was baking corn-battered hotdogs in molds, and the idea intrigued them, so the brothers set out to improve on the product. They perfected their batter-dipped and fried corn dog in time for the 1942 Texas State Fair.
Easy, portable and quick, corn dogs soon became fast food restaurant darlings. Cozy Dog Drive-in in Springfield, IL claims first-to-market status (1946) but restaurateur Dave Barham started selling at Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica, CA, that same year.
Which of these had the “best” corn dog recipe? I dunno. But we are sure fresh-made corn dogs have a taste/texture that frozen reconstituted can’t match. Our recipe is a slight adaptation of the 1981 California rendition the LA Times published in its first-edition LA Times cookbook. You can swap buttermilk in for the milk and add a little spice, but we like them fine plain.Use whatever dogs you like. But note: Choosing a sausage with a tougher casing means you’ll have to chomp harder to bite through.
Makes 6 to 10 corndogs, depending on size of the sausage you choose
Corn Dogs Ingredients
- 1 cup flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 Tbsp shortening (or melted bacon fat)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup milk
- 6 to 10 frankfurters
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Mustard (ketchup optional)
- Briefly cook or grill the hotdogs until hot. Wipe off any surface grease. Set aside.
- Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Using a fork, stir in cornmeal. Cut in shortening until mixture is like wet sand. Whisk egg with milk. Stir into cornmeal mixture. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Skewer each sausage. One at a time, spread thick batter on to the outside of a skewered sausage. This is the only “hard” part–don’t worry if it’s a little bit uneven or bumpy. Place cornmeal coated sausage in hot-fat fryer for 2 minutes; turn the sausage over and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove to paper toweling. Blot on paper. Serve hot, with mustard.