Batter Up

The corn dog version of Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus"

Four years ago, we never would have imagined that corn dogs could have been any less appetizing than they are in their natural state. There's that tough, chewy skin that proves they were fried at some point; a slightly sweet batter that's a little soggy; and, inside, a lukewarm pink, wrinkly wiener, so much smaller than you had imagined based on the overall girth. Then we saw a corn dog with a face. Not just any face, but a face with garish makeup accessorized with a tiny teased wig and a miniskirt. It was a question of culinary taste. Now it's barbarism.

This moment of revelation came care of The Corndog Festival, an annual event organized by Gwen Kaushagen in honor of a corn dog prank she and a friend played many years ago. Now it's a premier kickoff event for the State Fair of Texas. Each year--this is the ninth--fans gather, decorated corn dogs in hand, to participate in the "corn dog styling competition" and munch on all-you-can-eat corn dogs and tater tots. While The Corny Tones perform live music, celebrity judges pick the top wieners in several categories, including biggest, best movie adaptation and celebrity look-alike. Previous entries have included corn dogs attired as a tube of lipstick (ketchup red, of course), Marilyn Monroe, SpongeBob SquarePants, Snoop Dogg, Star Trek and Charlie's Angels characters. Our personal favorite: "Veggie Dog," a cucumber on a stick. And it all benefits Dog & Kitty City, Dallas' only no-kill shelter. Kill a dog in the name of style; save another one with your entry fee.

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