I’ve heard there are vegan corn dogs. I don’t know if that’s true, but jeez, I’d love to eat one of them - Davey Havok
If there’s one food that catapults us straight back to the long, lazy, summer days of our childhood, it’s the corndog.
The sacred snack of fairs and birthday parties, it’s a food group served on a stick that satisfies all of your nutritional needs.
Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly the most nutritional thing that you’ll ever eat, but what it lacks in the strict dietary nutrition rulebook, it more than makes up for by being one of the tastiest treats that we’ve ever encountered on our wonderfully long and gloriously adventurous food-centric journey.
While they were once regarded, mostly by parents, as the snack that closed proceedings on a day out and meant that whatever carnival or celebration you were at was finally coming to an end, thanks to the miracle of frozen food science that came of age in the nineteen seventies, the corndog is now an everyday part of America’s culinary life.
Sure, we miss the spectacle of a heavily tattooed carny dipping a dog in a vat of cornmeal batter and then risking life and limb when he lowered it into a deep fat fryer that spat and hissed as it welcomed the dog into its embrace, but it's something that we’d happily sacrifice to be able to lay our hands-on, and wrap our taste buds around, a great corn dog whenever we feel like it.
And strangely enough, the best place you can venture to in order to find the very best corndogs? That would be your local grocery store.
We know, we were just as surprised as you to discover the frozen delights that were available in the aisles of our local store, but with hindsight, we shouldn’t have been flabbergasted by that bombshell, as corndogs have always been a treat that everyone is supposed to enjoy, so they need to be readily available in the one place that everybody wanders into. The local grocery store.
But when you get to the store and you find the frozen corn dogs after they’ve called out to and summoned you, how do you know which ones to buy? How do you choose the best corn dogs from the cornucopia of dog based corn delights on offer?
That’s a tough question, and even though everyone’s tastes are as individual as they are, we’ve got enough history with corndogs, and, in our humble opinion, know enough about them to offer up a list of three of America’s favorite brands of corn dogs that are definitely waiting for you in the freezer of your local grocery store.
And they’re not just America’s favorites, they’re ours too.
OUR TOP PICK
State Fair has been making Corn Dogs since the nineteen fifties, even though the only people lucky enough to be able to lay their hands on them for the first thirty years were the natives of their home state, Texas.
It wasn’t until Sara Lee stepped in and took State Fair under their umbrella during the tail end of the nineteen-eighties that they became available nationwide and dog devotees everywhere could lose themselves in the sumptuous corn coated dogs that State Fair had built their brand around.
If you can think of a variation of corn dog there’s a good chance that State Fair makes it. They’ve learned and forgotten more about corn dogs in the last seven decades than ten generations of carnival folks ever did.
But, our favorite out of all of the corn dogs that they make is their one hundred percent beef dog.
Why? Because they’re from Texas and somewhere deep inside our minds resides the lesson that our daddy taught us at a very early age. No-one knows beef like Texans do.
So, it stands to reason that if a Texas-based brand is going to make all-beef corn dogs then they’re going to be something incredibly special, and these corn dogs really do take the dog to the next level.
Then there’s the fact that straight off the bat, State Fair tells you what these dogs are made from.
Usually, the dogs are made pretty much the same way as most wieners are, from a combination of pork, chickens, and beef, which while being tasty aren’t exactly inclusive and rule out a number or would be corn dog hounds who’s dietary requirements won’t let them go crazy at the corn dog stand.
Lastly, and most importantly for us, the only product that State Fair makes is Corn Dogs. That’s all they do, and the name of their company is even derived from the home of the corn dog, the State Fair.
Whether it’s the Sara Lee connection or the fact that the brand name is hopelessly associated with the product by millions of Americans, whatever the reason is, State Fair has become the nation’s most believed purveyor of corn dogs.
Being number one, they’re available everywhere, so you’ll be able to stroll straight into your local grocery store and pick a packet up whenever you’re overcome by the urge to indulge in your much-missed favorite childhood treat.
And, because we don’t like spoilers, we went and saved the best thing about State Fair corn dogs until last.
It doesn’t matter how you prefer your corn dogs, deep-fried, air fried, oven-baked, or microwaved, you can have these State Fair corn dogs any way you want them.
It’s like bringing the taste of the fair straight into your home.
If you’re not a fan of all beef corn dogs, you can take another route and go for the all chicken variety that’s been created by Foster Farms from California.
An ethical and responsible brand that is certified by the Humane Association of America, Foster Farms believe that good health begins with good eating, and all of their chickens are raised as cage-free birds and fed on organic and vegetarian diets to ensure that they’re healthier and happier.
And happier and healthier birds mean happier and healthier corn dogs, which means that, in turn, you’ll be happier and healthier if you choose to follow the corn dog path laid down by Foster Farms.
They’re also committed to doing things the sustainable way so that they can ensure that they’re doing what they can to protect the future of the planet and everyone on it, which means that every time you buy Foster Farms corn dogs from your local grocery store, you’re also helping to save tomorrow.
When you take that first bite of your dog, you can do so content in the knowledge that you’re playing your part in helping the planet to heal itself.
It’s an incredibly green outlook and not one that we’d usually associate with a treat that was popularised by carnivals and fairs, but it is, nonetheless, a welcome cred.
But the thing that we love most of all about these corn dogs, is their honey crunch batter.
One of the most important things that any corn dogs need to have is the right batter to dog ratio, and Foister Farms have perfected that combination and the honey they use in their batter max adds an extra level of sweetness and crunch to the mix that just makes these corn dogs stand out from the rest of the pack.
When you add that crunch and instant hit of batter to the fact that the chicken used in these dogs is completely steroid and hormone-free, it’s like taking a step into the future and tasing how good things could be if only everyone cared as much as Foster Farms do.
And don’t worry, they’ve also thought about how you’re going to serve your dogs and have made sure that whether you want to deep fry, oven cook or microwave them, they’ve got you covered.
It’s a three in one dog that not only tastes great but is also readily available from any, and all grocery stores. Because sometimes, as much as you want a good corn dog, only chicken will do.
With an increasing number of people looking to follow a healthier, more environmentally friendly, and meat-free lifestyle, it was only a matter of time until vegetarian and vegan corn dogs became an ever day dietary staple - which is why we were surprised to learn that Davey Havok hadn’t heard of MorningStar Farms veggie corn dogs.
Owned by Kellog’s, MorningStar is a strictly meat-free producer who, with a little food-based prestidigitation, has shown America that you don’t need meat to be happy.
MorningStar’s Incogmeato menu has seen a whole generation of people subscribe to a philosophy that vehemently believes that you can fool your taste buds and convince them that vegetable-based protein tastes exactly the same as meat and that your buds won’t be able to tell the difference between them.
And they’re right, they can’t. Or more accurately, we couldn’t as their corn dogs had us fooled and we honestly believed that they were based solely on a classic carnival recipe.
The crunch is there, the snap is there and the cornmeal batter to protein ratio is about as near to perfect as we’ve ever had.
It’s a classic corn dog that’s been given a twenty-first-century makeover by a brand that has sworn to make all of their products vegan by the time 2021 rolls around.
And just like the meat-based option, however, you like your corn dogs isn’t a problem, as MorningStar has all of the bases covered and you can cook these dogs any way that you want.
A healthy corn dog that’s readily available in the freezer section of your local grocery store? We really are living in a miraculous age.
How Do You Like Your Corn Dogs?
There was a time when you could only have your corn dogs served one way, which coincidentally is still the way we like them; deep-fried.
A ready prepared dog was dipped in cornmeal batter and then dunked into a deep-fryer for a couple of minutes, and your corn dog was ready.
But times began to change when people started using air fryers to make their corn dogs and while it was healthier as it cut down on the amount of oil and fat used to prepare the dog, we couldn’t help thinking that air frying took something away from the overall taste, even though it really didn’t.
We’re traditionalists, and the emergence of frozen corn dogs which can also be cooked in an oven or microwave, which makes them even healthier than frying them, led us to try new ways to cook our corn dogs.
If we’re honest, we couldn’t really tell the difference between the old way and the new ways, and while we’ll never be fans of microwave anything, corn dogs cooked in the oven from frozen are pretty great.
That said, we still think that you can’t beat a deep-fried corn dog. And there’s a whole army of carnies and fair fans who we’re sure would absolutely agree with us.
What Is A Corn Dog?
The corn dog was born and bred in America, and while other countries tried to copy it and came up with their own variations, there will only ever be one original and that was made right here in the USA.
Where it was first made is a whole different ball-game and if you’re not careful, you can disappear down any number of different corn dog rabbit holes trying to find out the real who, when, where, and how.
What every food historian does agree on though, is that the original patent for the corn dog was filed in 1927 and granted in 1929, despite the fact that the first “Krusty Korn Dog” machine appeared in 1926.
Trust us, trying to dig any deeper will only result in you ending up in a whole level of food-based chicanery that you really don’t want to get involved in.
So, that’s why we’re going to keep it simple. A corn dog is a hot dog that’s been thoroughly dipped in cornmeal and then is usually deep-fried to create one of the most delicious, moorish, and endearing staples of American cuisine.
And that’s all that anyone ever needs to know about corn dogs. Stop talking and reading about them, take a trip to your local grocery store, and start cooking and eating them instead.