Cozy Dawgs are a main attraction for Central Alabama Fair

Published 11:21 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chambers Jones, age 2, of Valley Grande, embarks on her second Cozy Dawg Monday at the Central Alabama Fair. -- Sarah Cook

Step on to the grounds of the Central Alabama Fair and it’s almost guaranteed that the first thing you’ll hear is –“come get your Cozy Dawg!”

The same man has been tempting fair goers with a delicious Zeigler’s hotdog dipped in batter for 25 years, he is “the Cozy Dawg man.” Eugene Middlebrooks is the man behind this unforgettable voice.

“It’s called hawking,” Middlebrooks said of his technique of enticing people to purchase a Cozy Dawg. “It’s an art form.”

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After having one Cozy Dawg, Middlebrooks said you can’t stop there—you have to get another. He attributed this to the “delicious secret recipe.”

“They won’t even tell me the recipe because they’re scared I’ll spill the beans,” Middlebooks said with a smile. “They know I have a big mouth.”

Although he doesn’t know the recipe, he said he has perfected the art of creating the perfect Cozy Dawg.

“The best way to make them, is we take the Zeigler’s weenie and we impale it with a real sharp wooden stick,” Middlebooks said. “But you have to be real gentle not to bruise the weenie. And then we dip it in our special batter and we bring it to a golden brown.”

After the Cozy Dawg is thoroughly cooked and fried, it is wrapped in paper and ready to eat. He added it’s important to keep the Cozy Dawg warm and said, “We don’t like our Cozy Dawgs to be cold.”

The first Cozy Dawg premiered in Selma in 1958, Middlebrooks said. Gerald Anderson, Selma Civitan Club member, has been dipping the hotdogs in batter since then.

“I’ve been doing this since ’58,” Anderson said. The idea for this delicacy on a stick actually originated from another fair, he added. But the name “ Cozy Dawg” was coined in Selma.

“I think part of the thinking behind the Cozy Dawg is it’s a hot dog, but it’s cozy, like it’s in a blanket,” he said.

After working the fair for so many years, Middlebrooks said he has formed a lot of good memories, although some of his favorite Cozy Dawg memories don’t actually happen at the fair.

“About a year a go I had to buy a new TV, so I had the cable guy come out,” Middlebrooks said. “And he said, ‘Do I know you from somewhere? Do you ever go out to the fair?’ And I said ‘Yes, yes I do.’ And then he said ‘Oh I know you, you’re the Cozy Dawg man!’”

Middlebrooks added that he looks forward to the fair every year, and he encourages everyone to “come out and get your Cozy Dawgs!”