Sep 2, 2015

A kiddo and her Cozy Dog

Sometimes I still find it hard to believe people willingly go to my hometown of Springfield, Ill., on vacation.   I know it was the hometown of our 16th president, too, and I get the nostalgia factor of Historic U.S. Highway 66 which once cut through town.  But when you’re surrounded by reminders of Abraham Lincoln and Route 66 every day, it becomes easy to take it all for granted. 

Recognizing this, I’m always up to the challenge when one of my few faithful followers suggests I act more like a tourist in my hometown and blog about local places and events.  So, when I had the opportunity not long ago for alone time with The Kiddo, I decided to take her to one of Springfield’s culinary landmarks – and one of historical significance when it comes to fast food – the Cozy Dog Drive Inn

Plus, the sign says it has kids’ meals.  How could I go wrong?

The Cozy Dog’s founder, Ed Waldmire, Jr., is one of several people credited with the evolution – if not the invention --- of the corn dog.  When Ed brought his version to Springfield in 1946, it quickly became part of the local culture.  In 1949, Ed opened another Cozy Dog on the South Sixth Street, which also happened to be directly on Route 66.  The Cozy Dog Drive Inn moved to its current location in 1996, still on one of the historic Route 66 alignments.  As such, it enjoys official Route 66 Roadside Attraction status. 

And what Route 66 Roadside Attraction would be complete without a kitschy gift shop? 

The old-school diner style seating and wall decorations complete the Route 66 connection.

But let’s be serious.  We didn’t come to Cozy Dog for Route 66 nostalgia.  We came because The Kiddo loves her corn … “ahem” … Cozy Dogs (it feels taboo to call them corn dogs here).  And she knows not all Cozy Dogs are equal.  So, we were eager to put Cozy Dog to The Kiddo’s taste test.   

But first, we decorate it just right.  I always thought ketchup was a no-no, but give her credit.  That’s a work of art.

And now, the moment of truth … the thumbs up with the first bite really tells you all you need to know.  It was apparently quite delicious. 

Her reaction made me instantly regret choosing the two hot dogs special I ordered.  The hot dogs are good here. But they’re so much better in batter, deep fried to a golden brown the way Ed meant them to be.

Fortunately, the Cozy Dog isn’t the only menu item that’s classic here.  The fries and onion rings and every bit as good as they look.  In fact, the onion rings were almost as popular with The Kiddo as the Cozy Dog. 

Clearly, these guys know how to serve up a variety of fast food magic.  While we were there, the burgers seemed to be equally popular with the customers.  They even serve breakfast until 11 a.m.  I’ll need to think outside of the box with my next order.  I’d wager that almost anything coming off that grill has to be pretty darn good.    

Our first visit to the Cozy Dog Drive Inn helped cement the Kiddo’s reputation as a fast food connoisseur.  And before we left, she had the opportunity to show off another talent; she’s a pretty good photographer, especially considering the subject matter she had to work with … and the fact that she’s seven. 

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