Friday, June 17, 2005

Apple #82: Hush Puppies

There's a Long John Silver's near my house. I don't like fish very much, and especially not fried fish, but often when I drive by, I wonder, "What the heck is a hush puppy?"
  • Hush puppies are balls of corn meal, seasoned with garlic, onion, and spices, and then fried. Often they are served with fried fish, but not necessarily.
  • Supposedly this dish originates from the Southern US, but really they are a variation on a much older dish, fritters, which were made by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
  • Fritters were flour mixed with milk, eggs, spices, and honey, and then deep fried. This simple and tasty dish was passed down through the generations, and eventually one variation became hush puppies.
  • The term "hush puppies" seems to have appeared around 1915. One story of how these things got their name is that when people were about to cook their meal, the dogs got all excited and started barking. To quiet the dogs, people tossed them the balls of corn meal, saying, "Hush, puppies!" This sounds a little too cute to be true, but that's the story most people tell.
  • Another story about their name is that in the South there was a salamander, often called a "water puppy," that people used to catch and deep fry with cornmeal dough in stick shapes. The fried water puppy was then called a "hush puppy" because they were considered a lowly and poor thing to eat, something you wouldn't want anybody to know you were feeding your family.
  • There's also a brand of shoe called Hush Puppies. The guy who made these shoes in 1958 heard the story about hush puppies the food, and how they were used to quiet barking dogs. He thought of the phrase "my dogs are barking" that people use to describe tired or sore feet and decided that Huhs Puppies would be a great name for his shoes that soothed your feet.

The hush puppies are the little round fried things on the left, between the dishes of cole slaw
(You can order this from Skippers)

This is Jason, the basset hound that became the mascot for Hush Puppies brand shoes

Lynne Olver, editor, Food Timeline
Food Facts & Trivia, Hush Puppies
Welcome to Hush Puppies, History of Hush Puppies
Jason's Hush Puppies Scrapbook

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