A juicy hot dog skewered on a stick, coated in a thick corn laden batter, and deep fried to a crunchy golden brown. Get a taste of history at this Route 66 institution: Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield, Illinois. Just don’t call it a corn dog.
Cozy Dog doesn’t sell corn dogs, they sell Cozy Dogs. Yes, their signature item is a battered and fried hot dog on a stick, but they make it clear that Cozy Dogs preceded the modern corn dog and are superior in quality and taste to your normal cornmeal dipped fair dog.
This corn drenched hot dog on a stick was invented and perfected by Ed Waldmire Jr. while he was in the Air Force during World War II. He was inspired by a food item he’d encountered in Muskogee, Oklahoma called a “corn dog.” But this corn dog was far from the festival fair we know today. This sandwich-like creation consisted of a wiener baked into cornbread. Similar flavors but without that signature stick or golden fried crunch. He set out to create a new version that was just as tasty but quicker to prepare.
With the help of his friend Don Strand the modern day corn dog was born.
Ed originally called the creation a “crusty cur,” and it quickly became popular at the local USO club. After he was honorably discharged in 1946, Ed returned home and decided to continue selling his snack in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. There would just be one change. At the urging of his wife, the moniker of “crusty cur” was changed to a more friendly sounding “Cozy Dog.”
Waldmire began selling his Cozy Dogs at the Lake Springfield Beach House and at the Illinois State Fair. In 1949 the Cozy Dog Drive In opened on Route 66, and, while it has moved a few times over the years, you can still find these treats on the Mother Road today. In fact, the recipe hasn’t changed since the 1940s, they still use the same equipment from the 1960s, and the business is still family owned, now being run by a third generation of Waldmires.
Put a stick in it, we’re done here. But not before eating another couple of Cozy Dogs.
While visiting Springfield, Illinois be sure to also look for these other local Illinois Route 66 attractions: Pinky the Pink Elephant with a Martini Glass, Lauterbach Tire Muffler Man, the Abraham Lincoln The Railsplitter Statue, and Abraham Lincoln’s Lucky Nose.
Cozy Dog Drive In
Address: 2935 S 6th St, Springfield, IL 62703
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 8am – 8pm
Visit the restaurant’s official website for up to day hours and menus.