Cozy Dog, continuing a unique food tradition

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Cozy Dog, continuing a unique food tradition

Cozy Dog outside and in, located on 6th Street.

Cozy Dog outside and in, located on 6th Street.

Lori Beckham

Cozy Dog outside and in, located on 6th Street.

Lori Beckham

Lori Beckham

Cozy Dog outside and in, located on 6th Street.

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Route 66 is the pathway of historical landmarks and American memorabilia, a fitting location for Cozy Dog Drive In, “Home of the Famous Dog on a Stick.”  Unlike the common corn dog, the restaurant’s “cozy dog” is the invention of Ed Waldmire Jr. and his friend, Don Strand, developed in the mid 1940’s.

“He came up with the idea when he saw dogs being baked in batter and it took too long to cook,” said Josh Waldmire, grandson of Ed Waldmire. J. Waldmire currently runs Cozy Dog Drive In with his brother.

“He was trying to figure out a quicker way to do it, so he worked with his friend to develop the batter so it can be dipped and deep-fried. Right now it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook instead of 20.”

J. Waldmire said his grandfather introduced the cozy dog at his base while he was a G.I., and it was “a big hit.“ After he retired from the army, “he pursued it.”

While the restaurant itself has evolved from “cozy huts” to its own establishment on South 6th Street, the cozy dog remains unaltered in ingredients and in the making.

Regarding the difference between the modern corn dog and his grandfather’s product, J. Waldmire explained, “they’re similar batters, both cornmeal based, but the spices are different. Also ours tend to be a little more crunchy, at least on the outside.”

Customers notice the difference in quality. Barbara J. McDonald is a frequent customer of Cozy Dog, having visited the first Cozy Dog House in the 1950’s, next door to Cozy Dog’s current location.

When asked what was her reason for frequenting the restaurant all these years, she answered: “There’s just something about the cozy dog; it has a slight sweet taste to it that I like. I think they‘re wonderful.” McDonald also said the location of the restaurant is convenient for her on her trips from Springfield to Chatham.

Melissa Johnson traveled from California and was a first time customer of Cozy Dog on Thursday. Having seen the restaurant on Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, her family stopped by to try the famous cozy dog.

While she enjoyed the main attraction, she particularly praised the fries, saying, “The french fries are so good. They’re little, crispy, greasy, and fresh.”

There are other classic foods served at Cozy Dog, such as hamburgers, pork tenderloins, nachos, coleslaw, and onion rings. The restaurant also has a unique atmosphere, decorated in cozy dog memorabilia.

Patrons enjoy the food at Cozy Dog, surrounded by a classic diner feel and memorabilia.

Prices are also lower than expected from a family restaurant. J. Waldmire discussed the difficulty of running a family business against corporate competitors. “We try to stay pretty competitive, but it’s a little harder on us because we try to buy fresh foods, and those are generally more expensive than frozen foods that you can get from food service companies.”

Despite costs, he added optimistically, “business has been good. Of course we do have our ups and downs, but we’re still going strong and I don’t see any foreseeable problems in the future. We should be here for many more years to come.”

Cozy Dog Drive In is located on 2935 South 6th Street, between Family Video and Walgreens. For more information, call (217) 525-1992.

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