There’s nothing more in the world that I love than a corn dog. That quintessentially, and some would say truly, American treat. So American that there’s even a nod to the national ownership in the film, Ratatouille. “What are corn dogs?” “Cheap sausages dipped in batter and deep fried. You know, American.” When I was a wee chub-tot, my nana and my mother would pull me around the flea market every Sunday, my vision of flea market shoppers framed by a constant unpainted metal muralist grid as I sat at the bottom of my nana’s shopping carrito. I was comforted by delicious corn dogs. And some Chinese food. Oh, and some Jimboy’s tacos. But, mostly the corn dog.
My hometown flea market is still serving up the exact same corn dog. They hand dip their dogs in a thick enough batter, way too reminiscent of Jiffy box mix, and fry them to order during the down time. A dog that’s juicy, a batter that’s crunchy and sweet, the outside lunar textured, topped with a sharp bite of mustard. But, this corn dog isn’t two separate entities in the war against my teeth, surprisingly, it’s one single element.
Sticks’ booth sat in the southeast corner of a cluster-fuck, where they were slangin’ corn dogs for $5 a piece. I get it. You’re slangin’ corn dogs filled with fancy ass options: Lousiana hot link, chicken and apple, some vegetarian option and of course, the Nathan’s-like all beef. But, I love corn dogs so desperately, that I thought I’d support the bums and dish out a Lincoln and wait a few minutes for my corn dog to hop out of the fryer. The exterior of my dog was surprisingly smooth. The first bite saddening because instead of a crunchy deep dish corn dog shell, I was met with a flabby pancake dough. I didn’t even protect it from the gaping hole of my partner, who came in for a landing like an impatient pilot. This wasn’t homemade, this was Foster Farms! And on that last bite, the corn had completely surrendered and slipped off the dog like I willingly slipped off my drawls so many times during my early twenties. If only we had left the corn dog in the fryer just a little longer.
There was this moment. A moment like I had been frightened with terror to find out that the batter and the dog were not one singular item. Like, a vegetarian that just found out that my delicious McDonald’s french fries are (used to be) fried in beef tallow. Like, I had heard a tape recorded studio audience gasp. Like, my motherfucking $5 dog had been raped by my mouth and I tore off its corn dress. Albeit a delicious dog on the inside. My experience was not the experience of a Central Valley flea market. If anything, it just left me respecting those toothless and down on their luck corn dog makers even more.
$5 Corn Dogs
Upper Haight Farmers Market (and other locations)
Featured image courtesy of Napoleon T.