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State Fair of Texas is crowd-packed scene of Fletcher family's deep-fried corny dogs: 'Tastes like home'

Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs have been a tradition at the State Fair of Texas since 1942, third-generation owner Amber Fletcher told Fox News Digital. Here's more about the family's food.

Everything is bigger in Texas — including the appetite for corn dogs.

The cornmeal-battered, deep-fried frankfurters are an all-American culinary curiosity, associated largely with state fairs from coast to coast. 

Nowhere is this passion for the classic state-fair fare more obvious, perhaps, than at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, where the Fletcher family has been slinging crunchy-on-the-outside hot wieners since 1942. 

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"It’s a family and a Texas tradition," third-generation corn dog queen Amber Fletcher of Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs said on Saturday, Oct. 14, while showing Fox News Digital the inner workings of her fiefdom of frankfurters. 

"They taste like my childhood and they taste like home," she said.

Hundreds of thousands of Texans apparently feel the same way each year. 

Fletcher’s sold a record 583,000 corny dogs at the 2022 State Fair of Texas. 

The 2023 fair ends this coming Sunday. 

Sales at the 24-day annual festival, dubbed "The Most Texan Place on Earth," represent 80% of Fletcher’s annual business.

Remarkably, every single one of the half-million-plus corn dogs — corny dogs in Texas parlance — are battered by hand. 

"The cornmeal batter recipe has never changed," said Fletcher, while pointing to a pallet of commercial-sized cornmeal bags under the tent of one of the Fletcher’s serving stations.

The corn-meal mix is made by Shawnee Mills of Oklahoma. 

Fletcher's hot dogs also uses a traditional family formula made by Standard Meats, though it has been tweaked over time, the owner said.

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Fletcher’s employs about 200 people at its seven corny dog stands around the fairgrounds. The most famous is right under State Fair of Texas' 55-foot-tall, booming baritone icon Big Tex.

This past Saturday proved a memorable one, even by the oversized standards of the State Fair of Texas. 

Fox News Digital spoke to Fletcher as festival-goers peered through special glazes to see the solar eclipse overhead.

Three people were shot at the festival later in the day; one man was arrested after an argument turned violent.

"I’m safe and back home," Fletcher posted that night on Facebook. "Thank you so much everyone for the calls and texts."

The history of the corn dog is rooted in some all-American ingenuity — and some controversy itself. 

Stanley S. Jenkins, a businessman, local politician and part-time inventor from Buffalo, New York, is widely considered the creator of the corn dog. 

He patented the equipment to deep-fry and skewer food in 1929. 

He described, in poetic detail, the incredible culinary delights made possible by his invention.

"I have discovered that articles of food such, for instance, as wieners, boiled ham, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, sliced peaches, pineapples, bananas and like fruit, and cherries, dates, figs, strawberries, etc., when impaled on sticks and dipped in a batter, which includes in its ingredients a self-rising flour, and then deep-fried in a vegetable oil at a temperature of about 390 F., the resultant food product on a stick or a handle is a clean, wholesome and tasty refreshment," Jenkins wrote proudly on his patent application. 

Oregon hot dog concessionaires George and Vera Boyington trademarked the name Pronto Pup, their version of the corn dog, and began selling them in 1941 at the Pacific International Livestock Exposition in Portland. 

They sold 15,000 Pronto Pups that first year alone, according to the Pronto Pup website. 

The oddity's success made news even on the East Coast. 

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The Pronto Pup is now most closely associated with the Minnesota State Fair, where more than 25 million have been consumed since 1947, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

The corny dog arrived at the State of Fair of Texas in 1942, courtesy of Neil and Carl Fletcher, who reportedly were unaware of the Oregon Pronto Pup.

Neil Fletcher is Amber's grandfather; Carl Fletcher is her great-uncle.

"There's something about the hand-dipped tradition, the fresh corny dog batter, the flavor of the hot dog that people keep coming back for 80 years," said Fletcher. 

"It's such a Texas tradition."

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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