Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lunch at Cozy Dog, Birthplace of the Corn Dog

A fun thing about being back in the US after such a long time is I feel like a bit of a tourist even in my own hometown. There are a few interesting local spots in town that I've never had a chance to check out, and thats why we decided to go to the Cozy Dog Drive In. This little Springfield restaurant claims to be "the home of the famous hot dog on a stick".

The story is in the true spirit of the American inventor. I might paraphrase the timeless story as "This guy saw this thing, and it sucked, so he made it better". You might want more details than that, though, so I humbly offer the tale as told by late founder Ed Waldmire, Jr. to his son Bob on January 30th, 1959.

In Muskogee, Oklahoma, I saw an unusual sandwich called “corn-dog.” This sandwich was a wiener baked in cornbread. The corn-dog was very good, but took too long to prepare. The problem was how to cover a hotdog with batter and cook it in a short time.

In the fall of 1941, I told this story to a fellow student at Knox College whose father was in the bakery business, and then gave it no further thought.

Five years later while in the Air Force stationed at Amarillo Airfield, I received a letter from my fellow student, Don Strand. To my surprise he had developed a mix that would stick on a weiner while being french-fried. He wondered if he could send some down that I could try in Amarillo. Having plenty of spare time, I said ‘yes.’

Using cocktail forks for sticks, the U.S.O kitchen in which to experiment, we made a very tasty hotdog on a stick, that we called a “crusty cur.” They became very popular both at the U.S.O. in town, and at the P.X. on the airfield. My friend continued to send mix and we continued to sell thousands of crusty curs until I was discharged – honorably – in the spring of 1946.

We decided to sell them that spring. My wife did not like the name “crusty curs.” Through trial and error and discarding dozens of names, we finally decided on the name “Cozy Dogs.”

Cozy Dogs were officially Launched at the Lake Springfield Beach House on June 16th, 1946.

This story and a bit of additional history and news is available on the Cozy Dog website here. Apparently Cozy Dog was also featured in National Geographic's Traveler magazine, but the magazine's website guards its treasures a bit too jealously for this lover of truth.

And here's the magical food people come here for. It's the only place I know of where you can get a good corn dog when the State Fair isn't in town.

I think this little eatery would be pretty cool even without its claims of corn dog genesis. The restaurant sits on Historic Route 66, the old-school patchwork of roads that led from Chicago to Los Angeles before the advent of the Interstate Highway System. It has lots of memorabilia everywhere that was interesting to look at while I waited for my food.

It's the only restaurant I can think of that has a library available to customers.

They have a few cases of souvenirs, mostly involving Route 66 and/or anthropomorphic hot dogs.

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If you want to be cool and experience some quality Midwestern culture, head to Cozy Dog Drive In and look for the sign with the giant embracing corn dog people.


  1. I've heard of this place! It was in a documentary called "a hot dog program". This guy from Pittsburgh goes around the country doing different ones, and he's done a bunch about Pittsburgh too.


  2. Wow, that's pretty cool. Hotdogs are vary quite a lot by region it seems. Springfield is so famous and awesome! hehe. Thanks for the input!