Invented during World War II by Ed Waldemire when he was in the Air Force stationed in Texas, the corn-clad, deep-fried pup was originally called Crusty Cur and was a big hit with flyboys at the Amarillo P.X. After the war, Waldemire's wife convinced him that his wiener needed a more appealing name; and in 1946, they opened the first Cozy Dog (so christened because no one eats a single, lonely one). You don't have to be a street food connoisseur to savvy the difference between a cozy dog and an ordinary corn dog. Dipped in batter and deep-fried when ordered, the cozy's batter jacket has a vivid crunch and the dog within is plump with juice. Family baskets include four cozy dogs and a large order of French fries. The fries are cut here and delightful.
Service is do-it-yourself. When your order is ready, you pick up the tray at the counter then head over to the condiment bar for pickles, relish, peppers, and onions and find a seat at one of the tables, each of which is topped with a laminated collage of Route 66 ephemera.
Cozy Dog today is a shrine to Route 66 and to itself, packed with mementoes, memorabilia, clippings, and old signs, as well as with Mother Road souvenirs for sale. Route 66 between Chicago and St. Louis is now Interstate 55 and the Cozy Dog Drive-In is now situated where the old Abe Lincoln Motel used to be.
"For the sake of clearly showing the nature of a Cozy Dog, I bit off the end before applying condiments. Note the crisp crust and the moistness of the batter. It was still steaming hot when I attacked it."
"The motto of Cozy Dog is "One Calls for Another." These wieners are the house emblem, happy because they are together."
"A pair of Cozy Dogs await decoration with squiggles of mustard."
"Old Route 66 through Springfield officially is designated 'Business 55.' This sign is impossible to miss as you travel through town."