We like to think that you can credit America’s obsession with fried foods, in part, to brothers Neil & Carl Fletcher. Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs, the famous meal on a stick, was invented in 1938 and debuted at the 1942 State Fair of Texas. The rest is history…
In 1938, brothers Neil and Carl Fletcher were winding down long-term careers in Vaudeville, having spent several of those years performing at the State Fair of Texas in a show called “The Drunkard”. Fortuitously, as the men were plotting their next moves in life, the brother were offered a unique opportunity to run a food booth at Fair Park. Both men had spent years marveling at the lack of cuisine offered to the Park patrons and knew they had an opportunity on their hands.
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 Fletchers began selling their corny dogs for 15 cents apiece at the State Fair of Texas in 1942, but the response was decidedly restrained. In fact, the brothers had to cut them in half and give away samples before people were willing to try it. After trying out a series of names ranging from K-9 and Brown Bomber to French Fried Hot Dog and Meal on a Stick, the Fletcher brothers finally came up with a name and began to build a clientele.
It took 12 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. And that’s all we are going to say about that… It’s surreal to look back now and realize that Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs have been at The State Fair of Texas a decade longer than Big Tex!
In 1988, Neil Fletcher Sr. passed away leaving the business to his two sons, Neil and Bill Fletcher. As a tribute to his legacy, a resolution was adopted by the Texas State Senate recognizing him as the inventor of the Corny Dog by a unanimous, rising vote. 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 Fletcher’s fast-food chains in the 80’s and 90’s.
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,” said 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.
Due to consumer demand, the company has recently acquired new mobile food trailers which now give Fletcher’s the ability to appear at festivals outside of the State Fair of Texas. Visit our EVENTS page to see where you can get your next Fletcher’s fix or contact us to inquire about catering your private party or corporate event!