There are many that claim first rite to the creation of the hotdog, but Austrians will tell you it goes back to the late 1400s, when a sausage was first referred to as a wiener, and the frankfurter was said to be born.
We love hotdogs, and as long as you have a decent wiener and a good bun, your culinary options are endless – yes I say culinary…Ha. With all our kids playing hockey we spent many weekends across Ontario and several US states in arenas and decided to search for the best arena hotdog. The very best was at the Georgina Ice Palace in Georgina Ontario north of Toronto. Back then, a 2 dollar steamed dog and bun served in the traditional foil wrap fed our non-playing family members. Even the packaged mustard couldn’t ruin this delight, and on these afternoons or evenings we referred to this food fest as quantity and quality.
The search for the best arena dog expanded into many a family summertime road trips to search for the best Pogo. The Pogo was arguably first created by Fred Boyington, a fair vendor who came up with the battered dog idea in 1939, after his buns were destroyed by a sudden downpour – or so the story goes. His early invention he named the Pronto-Pup, which was the name I knew them by. However the name fermented over time to include Pogo Stick and Corn Dog. Now I’m not going to get into the discussion of what are the differences, as the discussion usually gets ugly other than to say that Pogos, Pronto-Pups and Corn Dogs are all supposed to contain cornmeal.
We looked high and low for the perfect Pronto and often were surprised when some curb side trailers used pre-made frozen pogos. We disappointedly watched the vendor pulling it out of the freezer and plunking it into the fryer. Now I am sure that great Pogos can be found at a multitude of county fairs, and Minnesotans claim the best corn dogs in the world can be found at the Minnesota State Fair – but we were looking for a roadside food truck. After many a search and several pounds later, the very best we found was at a little food stand beside Spykes Gas Bar on Trout Lake Road in North Bay, Ontario Canada. At the time, they used a 12” Dog and the coating was thick, sweet and crispy and with a line of mustard we all declared it to be the best Pogo – and by the way, the stand menu called it a Pogo Stick!
One last thing regarding dogs before moving on to a simple tried and tested Pogo recipe. If you want a great street side hotdog, head to downtown Toronto, Ontario to any of the many street side vendors. Everything from sausage to all beef and bratwurst dogs can be had bbq’ed and served on what I think is the best egg bun in North America – accompanied by the vastest array of fixings known to man (and woman of course)! During my career days and to the dismay of my office colleagues, on a nice summer day, I would sometimes take visiting executives out at lunch for a dog which was always a huge hit, and a stark contrast from the usual terrific restaurants that Toronto has to offer.
Okay and finally here is the Pogo recipe and the “Twist”.
We have experimented with many pogo recipes over the years, and it’s always a fun family project to make these! This time around our test kitchen used a recipe from SUZZANNA at allrecipes.com – it worked perfectly for us!
Makes about 16 Pogos and these are great – crispy and flavourful.
1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 4 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1 egg, 1 cup milk. 16 of your favourite hot dogs, 1 litre vegetable oil, 16 wooden skewers
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and pepper, baking powder). Whisk in milk and eggs.
Pour oil in deep saucepan. Set heat to medium to preheat oil.
Dry off and Insert skewers in wieners.
Roll wieners in floor and then in batter until coated. You do not need to have a thick coating as the batter will expand when fried.
Fry pogos in the oil until lightly browned, turning if need be from time to time – for about 3 minutes.
Drain on paper towels.
What is the Twist?????
One of our university kids brought these Pogos home from his apartment freezer – for 10 dollars there were 22 Pogo’s and we baked them. While they aren’t of the homemade quality, they were pretty darn good. If we were hosting a child’s birthday party, which we once did often, these would be the treat.
Lillie still prefers our homemade Pogos though, and the anticipation while making them!