The Disputed Origins Of The Corn Dog

If you find yourself at a carnival or amusement park, you'll know a corn dog as soon as you smell it. It's got that meaty, salty-sweet aroma that wafts into the air when dough is frying and sausages are cooking. It's unmistakable, and it's enough to make your mouth start to water instantly. The corn dog is an American classic, but unlike some other American dishes, this tasty treat on a stick has a controversial history.

According to Frying Pro, it was the ancient Egyptians who invented deep fat frying, but it didn't become mainstream until the 19th century. In part, we can thank the ancient Egyptians for the corn dog, but they're not the ones who invented it.

With most famous types of food, historians can trace them back to their genesis, but in the case of the corn dog, it's complicated. Multiple people have laid claim to inventing it, and it all happened around the same time. So, who really invented the corn dog?

He said, she said

According to Bar S's Food For Thought, the 1942 Texas State Fair was one of the first places the corn dog was seen. Vaudeville performers and brothers Neil and Carl Fletcher began selling their "corny dogs" at the fair, and these same corny dogs are sold at the Texas State Fair today. While a delicious Texas tradition, the Fletchers weren't the first to serve a corn dog in the U.S.

In 1941, an Oregon diner named Pronto Pup was selling a cornmeal-battered hot dog on a stick, and then-owners George and Vera Boyington claimed to have invented it. Pronto Pup is still in existence today, the restaurant still claims to have created the original hot dog on a stick, per Minnesota Public Radio.

The Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield, Illinois, also lays claim to inventing the modern corn dog, according to The Takeout. One of the co-founders, Ed Waldmire, says that he ate a hot dog baked into cornbread at an Oklahoma diner around 1941, and then approached his friend and future business partner Don Strand about it (per Bar S). Strand perfected the recipe, and they launched Cozy Dog in 1946.

Even further back is a patent for an apparatus for deep fat frying all sorts of foods that was filed by Stanley Jenkins in 1927 in Buffalo, New York, according to Food for Thought. While Jenkins mentioned frying sausages, he never moved beyond the patent phase. So, will we ever know the corn dog's true origin story? Perhaps it has many.