The Corn Dog Was Invented 80 Years Ago at the Minnesota State Fair
An iconic summertime snack got its start right here in the great state of Minnesota. The corn dog was originally born at the Minnesota State Fair in 1941, kind of.
The true origin story of the corn dog is widely debated, but one of the claims is that Pronto Pup vendors at the Minnesota State Fair came up with the concept in the early 40s:
Who is responsible for making this item popular? Many people claim this title. Most often cited are the Fletcher brothers (Corn dogs/Texas) and Jack Karnis (Pronto Pups/Oregon & Minnesota). The records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confirm Pronto Pups were introduced 1942 (the company's Web site claims 1941). According to the food historians, this is about the same time Corn Dogs were made their way to the Texas State Fair.
The legend of the Pronto Pup at the Minnesota State Fair starts with Jack Karnis selling the snack on a stick on the street in Chicago when he was approached by a Minnesota entrepreneur. The family legend states that Jack had no time for the gentleman from Minnesota when he tried to talk business at the Pronto Pup counter. But William Brede, a familiar name at the State Fair, wouldn't take no for an answer, and went home to Minnesota to secure a spot for the Karnis' food stand.
After locking down the spot, Brede got Jack and his wife to come to the fair by promising them a salary for that first year that equaled their Chicago revenue. They haven't missed the Minnesota State Fair ever since.
Other corn dog origin stories include someone making a similar food item made in a waffle iron type contraption, and something similar to a corn dog being sold on boardwalks in Florida.
So maybe Minnesota isn't the home of the concept of a corn dog, but we are synonymous with Pronto Pups, and that's good enough for us to claim them as our own.
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