The Cozy Dawg: Nostalgic fair treat a ‘county phenomenon’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 5, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Cotton candy, caramel apples and funnel cakes are widely regarded as fine fair cuisine. But at the Central Alabama Fair, the Cozy Dawg is king.

To outsiders the Cozy Dawg is just an elaborate Southern moniker for a regular ol’ corn dog. Not so, according to Selma Civitan member James E. Skinner, who says the Cozy Dawg is a “Dallas County phenomenon.”

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Selma Civitan began selling Cozy Dawgs at the Central Alabama Fair in 1961 for a mere 20 cents and “we’ve never missed a year since then,” said Skinner.

What’s makes the Cozy Dawg special, Skinner says, is that it’s made with all locally manufactured products. Skinner believes the Cozy Dawg’s uniqueness also lies in its cornmeal batter recipe, a closely guarded secret among Selma Civitan’s 24 members.

“It’s all made right here … all made from scratch,” Skinner said. “We have never used anything but Zeigler weenies, cornmeal…”

Then Skinner made one small clarification.

“Everything’s local except the stick. Guess where they’re from? China,” he said jokingly.

Skinner and fellow Civitan member Gerald Anderson both have the Cozy Dawg recipe down to a science. Stationed in a modest booth and kitchen near the fairground’s entrance, Anderson dips a red Ziegler wiener into a container of the secret batter and drops it into a deep fryer filled with vegetable oil. Turning the Dawgs with a pair of tongs, Anderson removes them from the fryer after two to three minutes or until “they’re golden brown all the way around.”

“You don’t want them to have yellow bellies,” Anderson said, referring to underdone Dawgs. After cooling on a rack for a few minutes, the Dawgs are then strategically wrapped in wax paper and sold to hungry fair patrons for $1.50. And both gentlemen agree there’s only one way to eat a Cozy Dawg.

“Ketchup and mustard,” Skinner said.

On Monday, the opening day of the 50th Annual Central Alabama Fair, Selma Civitan broke its previous record for the number Cozy Dawgs sold in one night. Skinner proudly announced the record now stands at 2,100. During fair season,

the group sells an estimated 4,800 Cozy Dawgs annually.

“Every penny we make off these stays in Dallas County,” Skinner said.

Selma Civitan will continue to sell Cozy Dawgs until the Central Alabama Fair concludes Saturday evening. Skinner and Anderson encourages everyone to “come get your Cozy Dawg” before it’s too late.

“We have folks from far and wide to get them,” Skinner said. “We’ve had folks come in from Clanton, Camden, Monroeville, Thomasville and all little places in between.”

“And then there are the locals. They say, ‘We’ve been waiting all year for a Cozy Dawg.'”