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What is a Corn Dog?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A corn dog is a hot dog encased in a cornmeal batter and fried or baked. It is intimately associated with fairs, especially in the United States, and it also pops up in school cafeterias as well. Depending on how it is prepared, this dish can be high in fat or relatively healthy, and it is usually dressed with a condiment such as mustard. Many grocery stores carry pre-cooked or frozen versions, and they can be reheated through baking, microwaving, or frying.

The origins of the corn dog are disputed. The food appears to have emerged at some point in the 1940s, but several different people lay claim to inventing it. The 1942 Texas state fair appears to have been the venue in which this dish was first popularized, but evidence suggests that it were being made and served around the United States before this point.

Early corn dogs were made by rolling a frankfurter in a thick cornmeal batter which puffed up and became bready when cooked. In the late 1940s, the stick was added to the dish to make them easier to eat, and most modern corn dogs are mounted on a stick. Consumers squeeze condiments along the length of the dog, which may come wrapped in wax paper for tidiness, and eat it like a Popsicle.

Since corn dogs can be eaten one handed with minimal fuss, they are a popular choice at fairs and carnivals. Frankfurters in general frequently pop up in this venue, since they are cheap and relatively easy to cook, making them an easy choice for food vendors. Since the corn dog is associated with the fair environment in the minds of some people, they are sometimes considered to be special or unique treats, and they are not often made at home.

When made with high quality sausage and a good batter, a corn dog can approach the level of the gourmet. Most, however, are made with cheap materials which are heavily salted and often loaded with fats as well. Especially when fried, it may not represent the most ideal nutritional choice, with the baked version being the most healthy option. Choice of condiments can also have an impact on the nutritional value of this dish. Although mustard is the most common, relish, sauerkraut, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise are also used, depending on region and personal taste.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon341340 — On Jul 10, 2013

I thought that a corndog was fried corn on the cob. I think I'm wrong.

By anon267260 — On May 09, 2012

There is a National Corn Dog Day festival every year, and is on the first Saturday of March Madness every year.

By anon169436 — On Apr 21, 2011

corn dogs are disgusting.

By Georgesplane — On Aug 10, 2010

Corn dogs are easy to make. Here is a good corn dog batter recipe, just be sure to dry the hot dogs, and lightly roll them in cornstarch so the batter sticks. Besides that, you can use any cooked hot dog or sausage you like.

Recipe: In a large bowl mix together 2 cups flour, 1 1/3 cups cornmeal, 1/2 cups sugar, and 3 teaspoons salt with a half stick melted butter. Depress the center of the mixture, and add 2 eggs, 2 1/2 cups buttermilk, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Blend the batter with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Dip your dusted hot dogs in the batter and fry in hot oil until done. This corn dog recipe will make those perfect, but oh so bad for your heart, corn dogs that you get at the county fair.

By cafe41 — On Jul 25, 2010

I just want to add that I normally buy the Morningstar mini corn dogs.

I love them because they are really small and I could have few and not feel so guilty for eating them. My kids like them two. The average serving size which is around four pieces and is around 175 calories.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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