This Friday is the United States’ National Day: Independence Day. Next weekend, BBQs will be the rage and losing weight will be the last thing on people’s mind!
I have lived in the United States for 16 years now and I have therefore been celebrating my new national holiday for a while. When we think about typical American cuisine, we often think of BBQ and the ubiquitous hamburger. But Americans can claim to have invented a lot of junk food, these foods that may be good, but are definitely not good for you (read: do not attempt to read the ingredients)…
One of those foods that is almost always on the menu of street vendors, at fairs and amusement parks is the renowned corn dog: a hot dog dipped in a cornmeal-based batter and deep fried served on a stick. Sounds delicious, right?
Hot dog is probably the first industrial food that was prepared using this preparation technique. Since then, many “inventions” have emerged at these fairs. Deep-fried Oreo, cheesecake or cheeseburger on a stick anyone? Americans love to create these recipes as farfetched as repulsive to surprise and amaze onlookers who love to be amazed by these “heart attacks on a stick”.
It’s called pogo, dagwood dog, pluto pup, corny dog, dippy dog, cozy dog depending on the region or country of origin.
The origin of this gastronomic refinement is disputed. Yes, Americans are in fact fighting for who invented recipes as incongruous as the corn dog.
A patent seems to have been filed in 1927 for a manufacturing process of deep-frying foods dipped in a batter including hot dogs as well as hard-boiled eggs, ham, and fruits like cherries or strawberries and served on a stick.
Yet, years have passed before this invention that would change the face of the world would make its appearance at state fairs and amusement parks.
Brothers Carl and Neil Fletcher are often cited as those who are at the origin of commercialized corn dogs. They in fact started selling corn dogs at the Texas State Fair between 1938 and 1942. Vendors of pronto pup claim to be the inventors as they began selling them at the Minnesota State Fair in 1941. Cozy Dog Drive-in in Springfield, IL and Dave Barnham (Hot Dog on a Stick) in Santa Monica, CA only opened in 1946.
There are a few versions of this culinary refinement in other countries. In Argentina and Uruguay, it’s called panchuker. Corn dog is also quite common in Australia, New Zealand and Japan under different names.
Believe me or not but it was the first time I ate a corn dog. Not only because I find the idea of a deep-fried hot dog on a stick rather unusual… but also and mainly because I keep Kosher. I actually had to adjust the recipe of the batter and replace the buttermilk (or milk) used in most recipes with soy cream (soy milk can also be used).
The end result was quite a success, especially for the kids who truly enjoyed them. Indeed, corn dogs are fun and easy to eat. Dip them in mustard, ketchup or other condiments and munch on them. You can serve them with cole slaw and fries like I did.
It’s already been 12 hours since I swallowed these things from another world and no heart attack in sight… just yet. Joking aside, I understand how you can become seriously addicted to these fried foods on a stick. #DietStartsTomorrow… Definitely!
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg , beaten
- 1 cup milk (or buttermilk)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 16 sausages
- Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
- Wooden skewers (about 5 to 6 inches/15cm long)
Heat oil in a deep fryer or wide frying pan to 350F/180C.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Make a well in the center and pour the beaten egg, buttermilk (or milk) and baking soda. Mix well until the batter is smooth.
- Dry sausages with paper towels so that the batter sticks.
- Insert a wooden stick into the end of each sausage.
- Dip the sausage in the batter one at a time, shaking off excess.
- Fry 2 to 3 sausages at a time in hot oil until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels and serve hot.