Although I like to think of myself as somewhat of a foodie, I have a major weakness that would probably make a true gourmet cringe: corn dogs. There is something about a hot dog smothered in an inch-thick blanket of cornbread batter and deep-fried to crispy perfection that makes my heart sing. I’m not the only food lover suffering from this addiction, either – back in my Earle days, all us employees thought that the one good thing about working downtown during the art fairs was that the corn dog vendor usually set up near the alley behind our restaurant. Our manager would take up a collection and, shortly before the fairs shut down for the night, go buy a handful of corn dogs for his hungry, cranky employees.
In Connecticut, I was able to get plenty of good food – but in three years, I was never able to get a decent corn dog. We went to multiple fairs and there were no corn dog vendors. Even at the Big E in Massachusetts, where seemingly every fair food known to man had a place, a corn dog could not be found.
Last summer, I finally had a glimmer of hope when I saw a sign for corn dogs at a fair in North Stonington. When I reached the front of the line, however, rather than handing me a corn dog fresh out of a deep fryer, the girl picked up a hot dog from a package on the counter, stuck a skewer in one end, laid it in a contraption that I am fairly certain was a waffle-maker, poured what looked like pancake batter over it, and closed the lid. About three minutes later I was handed a misshapen waffle on a stick with a hot dog in the middle. It wasn’t even crispy. It was soggy, and the batter was bland, with no discernible corn flavor.
I have quite possibly never been as disappointed as I was at that moment.
I had long since given up hope of ever eating another delicious corn dog again. And then, a miracle happened: we moved back to the midwest and went to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.
I went to the Art Fairs to look for art – really, I did. But the first thing that really caught my eye and sent me digging for my wallet was the food area and the intersection of South University and State Street. There, looming on the horizon amongst the signs for fresh-squeezed lemonade and funnel cakes was a sign for corn dogs.
These were true corn dogs, thickly battered and deep-fried in real, delicious, completely unhealthy oil. God also decided to reward me by making these foot-long corn dogs. I was in heaven. My quest was over.
What’s your fair food kryptonite?