The Cozy Dog, a battered, deep-fried hot dog on a stick, was created by Ed Waldmire Jr. (1916-93) while he was in the U.S. Army Air Corps in Texas.* After discharge, Waldmire brought the idea back to Springfield.
Here is a description of the beginnings of the Cozy Dog, taken from Edwin Waldmire Jr.’s entry on Findagrave.com.
Waldmire first came across the corn dog , in Muskogee, OK. He was a fan of the concoction, but believed it took too long to prepare, so he began searching for a way to cover a hotdog with batter and cook it in a short time.
Waldmire and a college friend Don Strand developed a mix that would stick to a hotdog while it was fried. They named it “crusty cur”. The treat quickly gained in popularity, although its name was changed to “Cozy Dog” after Waldmire’s wife objected to the original name.
Cozy Dogs were officially launched on June 16,1946 at the Lake Springfield Beach House.
Waldmire operated Cozy Dog outlets on South Grand Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard for a time. But the restaurant that made the Cozy Dog’s reputation was a drive-in Waldmire opened in 1949 in the 2900 block of South Sixth Street, which also was along U.S. Route 66.
That original restaurant was replaced by a new version, just to the north, in 1996, but the Cozy Dog Drive-In remains an iconic stop for people traveling Route 66.
Waldmire, his family and the Cozy Dog Drive-in were inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1991. His son, artist Robert Waldmire (1945-2009) who traveled Route 66 innumerable times (often in idiosyncratic vehicles of his own design), received the Tom Teague Ambassador’s Award from the Illinois Route 66 Association in 2010.
*While Ed Waldmire may have come up with his own version and his own name for the deep-fried frankfurter, variations — some using pancake batter, others cornmeal-based — apparently have been around since at least the 1920s.
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