Saturday, September 27, 2008



Corny Dogs
If you have ever been to the State Fair of Texas, you've probably
experienced the legendary Fletcher's Corny Dog. In fact, you've
probably experienced quite a few. With this recipe, you can create
your own legend.
8 frankfurters
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons canola oil
3/4 cup milk
Shortening or peanut oil for deep frying
Wooden skewers
Yellow mustard for dipping
Boil the franks for a few minutes. Remove from water and drain.

Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the egg, oil and milk. Add to the
dry ingredients, mixing well.

Insert the skewers to within 1/2 inch of the top of each frank. Coat
each frank evenly with cornmeal mixture. Deep fry, a few at a time, in
hot shortening or oil for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Serve
with lots of yellow mustard.

Keeping a Corny Tradition
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This story's categories:
American Roots , Texas

by Kristen Tribe
"Say corny dogs!" shouts Shonnery Pettit from behind her camera at the
State Fair of Texas in Dallas. For years, her family has traveled from
Mesquite, Texas, to enjoy and pose with a famous piece of culinary
history: Fletcher's Corny Dogs, considered the original corn dog.
"I grew up coming to the fair to show cattle, and every year I had to
have a Fletcher's Corny Dog," Pettit says. "My husband, Tom, is from
Wisconsin, and I introduced him to them. We've even brought his
parents out here and said, 'You've got to try this.'"

When brothers Carl and Neil Fletcher invented the batter-dipped,
deep-fried hot dog in their Dallas kitchen and sold it for the first
time in 1942 at the State Fair of Texas, they couldn't have imagined
its enduring popularity. Today, descendents of the Fletcher brothers
sell nearly 500,000 corny dogs during the fair's 24-day run, scheduled
Sept. 28 to Oct. 21 this year.

"We've had quite a love affair with the people that visit the fair,"
says Skip Fletcher, 72, who, along with his brother Bill, runs
Fletcher's Corny Dogs. "I think we captured the public's imagination
with something new, different and good."

Ann Beddingfield, 65, of Frankston, Texas (pop. 1,209), has been
coming to the state fair for 50 years, and she says the first corn dog
she ate as a child was a Fletcher's.

"I'd never seen anything like it," Beddingfield says. "It was a
special treat. We didn't have hot dogs every day like kids do now."

Fletcher's Corny Dogs taste better than their competitors because they
are so crispy, Beddingfield says. Skip says each dog should have a
"certain crunch" and is cooked according to the original recipe. It's
hand-dipped in a cornmeal-based batter and cooked for three and a half
minutes in a 365-degree vat of peanut oil.

"At least once a day, I go to all six stands (at the fair) to check
the quality of the product," he says. "Corny dogs are simple, but they
ain't easy."

As a 7-year-old, Skip was the official taste tester for his father,
Neil, and Uncle Carl as they developed the recipe in his mother's
Dallas kitchen. "It was tough to achieve a balance where it would stay
on the stick and still taste good," he says, adding that the recipe
evolved over a three-month period.

Carl and Neil were "song and dance men," says Skip, and they had a
popular tent show in Dallas for many years. Eventually, they gave up
performing for more traditional jobs, but their independent spirits
pushed their experimentation in the kitchen and development of the
corny dog.

No one is sure how the duo decided on the name for their product, but
Skip and his wife, G.G., think it is a play on the words "cornmeal"
and "carnie," named both for the batter and their fellow carnival

Carl and Neil died within a year of each other in the late 1980s, and
Skip and Bill took over the business.

Fletcher's Corny Dogs were sold only at the State Fair until 1995,
when the Fletchers opened a new stand under the name Corny Dog Pit at
the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Today, Fletcher's Corny Dogs are available only at the fair, the
speedway and a few Texas festivals, so fans don't mind waiting in
lines that snake around the stand to get their annual taste of
culinary history for $3.50. Some customers are so steadfast in their
tradition that they buy their corny dog from the same stand year after
year. In return, the Fletchers work hard to make their customers

"We take it seriously," Skip says. "We don't want anyone to get a bad dog."

Kristen Tribe is a writer in Decatur, Texas

first appeared: 9/16/2007

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