10 Corn Dogs We Love In Chicago

[Photographs: Amy Cavanaugh]

Who invented the corn dog?

A friend posed that question to me when I mentioned that I was working on this piece, so I had to do some digging. They're traditionally associated with state fairs, so I thought that might be where corn dogs originated. Pronto Pup started selling them at the Minnesota State Fair in 1941, while brothers Carl and Neil Fletcher first sold them at the Texas State Fair in 1942. Cozy Dogs in Springfield, IL first started selling them at the Lake Springfield Beach House on June 16, 1946. Before fairs, though, there was a "Krusty Korn Dog baker," circa 1929, in which a hot dog was baked in cornmeal and molded "to resemble an ear of corn."

But the earliest mention of a corn dog-like item comes from 1927. In July of that year, Stanley S. Jenkins of Buffalo, NY filed a patent for a "combined dipping, cooking, and article holding apparatus," in which "a new and novel edible food product" would be "impaled on a stick and coated with batter," then deep fried.

He wrote this in the patent:

"I have discovered that articles of food such, for instance, as wieners, boiled ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, sliced peaches, pineapples... when impaled on sticks and dipped in a batter, which includes in its ingredients self-rising flour, and then deep fried... is a clean, wholesome, and tasty refreshment."

Jenkins received his patent on March 26, 1929.

Whether it was Jenkins and his "batter jacketed food articles," or someone else who first officially invented the corn dog, they've made state fairs more delicious for decades. When I started poking around in Chicago, I found a surprising array of corn dogs, from Texas hot links in Anson Mills polenta batter to foie gras corn dogs to a pair of dogs topped with chili and cheese.

Here are nine places to try corn dogs in Chicago, which you can check out by clicking on the slideshow.

(Note: I recently visited Hot Doug's only to learn that they source their corn dogs from Vienna Beef, which has a corn dog shortage, so Doug's is temporarily out. Should be sorted out soon, though.)