Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs, the famous meal on a stick, was invented by brothers Neil & Carl Fletcher. They debuted their fried food invention at the 1942 State Fair of Texas.
In the 1930s, Neil, along with his wife Minnie and brother Carl were performers of Vaudeville in Dallas. In 1938, after the brothers had performed at the State Fair of Texas in a show called “The Drunkard” and were approached by State Fair officials with an offer for a food booth. The two brothers accepted the challenge. According to Neil, there was a local baker on Oak Lawn Ave. who served a dish of hot dogs baked in cornmeal in the shape of an ear of corn, and while it tasted good, the process was time consuming and complicated. The brothers tested the recipe and realized that by frying it, not only did it cut time in the cooking process but now it was a mobile food on a stick.
The first year the Fletcher’s served their newly fried invention; people didn’t know what it was. They had never seen anything like it before. In fact, they had to cut them in half and give away samples before people were willing to try it. That year they brought home $8,000 at 15c each during the 17 days of the State Fair. It quickly became the eat treat of the midway!
The brothers continued to evolve the product and troubleshoot issues, like getting the batter to stick, through hours upon months in the kitchen. Neil Jr, was “the official tastetaster” as he says. It took 9 years before they felt their unique batter was perfected and since then, it’s never changed. The secret to the famous Fletcher’s Corny Dogs isn’t just the batter, it is also in the water temperature and how the batter is mixed.
In 1988 Neil Fletcher Sr. passed away leaving the business to his two sons, Neil and Bill Fletcher. Neil Fletcher Jr. was the beloved patriarch of Fletcher’s Corny Dogs for nearly 40 years, with his brother Bill working hard by his side. Neil Jr. ( a.k.a. Skip “the Corny Dog King”) continued to drive innovation within the business, introducing the Jalapeno and Cheese Corny Dog in 2004, followed by the “Bird Dog” in 2011. Skip’s daughter Amber had the idea to introduce to fans a “Veggie Dog” in 2015, while Skip’s youngest son Aaron brought in the Cheezy Pup in 2018. The cheese dog was originally sold in the Fletcher’s fast food chains in the 80’s and 90’s. Aaron remembered eating them as a child and since then had wanted to bring them back.
While the variety of “dogs” has expanded over the years, the one thing that will never change is the batter. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and it sure as hell wasn’t broke when my brother and I took it over”, says Bill Fletcher. Since the passing of the Skip in 2017, the Fletcher company is still owned and operated by Skip’s wife GG of 40 years, his two children Aaron and Amber, his brother Bill Fletcher and son W.C. with wife Rebecca. Many children, cousins, and grandchildren work the concessions trailers keeping the tradition alive.
A staple of the State Fair of Texas and a family tradition since 1942.