As a woman living in the Land of Lincoln sometimes it is easy to forget that Springfield, Illinois is also part of the Mother Road and that Route 66 has long been an iconic part of its past. The Cozy Dog Drive In has a long history with both the route and the Cozy Dog that Ed Waldmire created. Today they are still serving up great diner food and offering a museum type experience for Route 66 lovers at the same time. “The Cozy Dog is now owned by Ed Waldmire’s grandson’s, they are 3rd generation,” Jeff Berg of Visit Springfield said when we stopped during a local food tour.
While I have been by and even stopped in Cozy Dog before, it had been a long time since I took the time to stop by and try a cozy dog. I must say the hotdog on a stick breading was marvelous. It was crisp, hot and the perfect one handed meal.
On the Cozy Dog website there is a tale from the late Ed Waldmire about how the cozy dog came about. “In Muskogee, Oklahoma, I saw an unusual sandwich called “corn-dog.” This sandwich was a wiener baked in cornbread. The corn-dog was very good, but took too long to prepare. The problem was how to cover a hotdog with batter and cook it in a short time. In the fall of 1941, I told this story to a fellow student at Knox College whose father was in the bakery business, and then gave it no further thought. Five years later while in the Air Force stationed at Amarillo Airfield, I received a letter from my fellow student, Don Strand. To my surprise he had developed a mix that would stick on a weiner while being french-fried. He wondered if he could send some down that I could try in Amarillo. Having plenty of spare time, I said ‘yes.”
Calling the creation “crusty cur” and using cocktail forks for sticks, the new item became popular and started selling. After he got out of the service in 1946, Cozy Dogs was first launched at the Springfield Beach House in June of 1946. The website states that this story was told to Ed’s son Bob Waldmire, an artist who created pictures up and down Route 66 in a van that is now on display in Pontiac, Illinois at the Route 66 Museum. Several examples of Bob’s art is on display at Cozy Dog along with a lots of Route 66 history and items for sale.
If nothing else, the Cozy Dog is a place begging for photo ops, who doesn’t want their picture taken in front of this Cozy Dog sign?
Whether recreating a visit from your youth, or taking a grandchild for their first cozy dog, stop by and relive the great fair food that helped put Springfield cuisine on the map. If traversing Route 66, this is a must stop, there is no place quite like it. Log onto http://www.cozydogdrivein.com/ for details.