Better On A Stick

Have you ever noticed that food on a stick tastes better than regular food?  It’s also more fun to eat. 

It’s true.  And to prove it, I’m going to play lawyer (because attorneys are cool) and submit the following into evidence. 

Exhibit A: The Corn Dog.

It is unknown who the true inventor of the corn dog is, although several people take credit for this culinary masterpiece.  They appeared at the Texas State Fair sometime between 1938-1942, and at the Minnesota State Fair in 1941.  The Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield, Illinois claims to have invented them in 1946, which is the same year Dave Barham founded Hot Dog On A Stick in Santa Monica (now a franchise popular in mall food courts and perhaps best known for their fresh lemonade and ridiculously-attired employees who are forced to wear garish brightly-striped jockey caps and hot pants inspired by a brief fad in the ‘60s).  However, way back in 1929 a patent was granted for a Combined Dipping, Cooking, and Article Holding Apparatus.  Holy crap, that’s a mouthful.  And by the way, how can you claim to have invented a wooden stick?!  Nature gets the credit for that one.  Or God.  His grandchildren are probably the ones who came up with the Pet Rock.

That uniform is both sexy AND stylish!

Disputed origins aside, the corn dog is both delicious and fun to eat.  No bun?  No problem!  You’ve got all the goodness of a hot dog, wrapped inside deep-fried cornmeal.  Clogged arteries aside, what’s not to love? 

Exhibit B: Cotton Candy.

Cotton candy has been around since the mid-1800’s.  Rumor has it that, when he wasn’t busy making proclamations about emancipation, Abraham Lincoln enjoyed the occasional late-night cotton candy snack, but this irritated Mary Todd, who would invariably spend the next thirty minutes picking strands of spun sugar from his beard.  (Don’t Snopes this, because I totally made it up).  It gained popularity at the 1904 World’s Fair when it was introduced as Fairy Floss.  (It is still called that in Australia, and is known as “candy floss” in parts of Europe.  This must send dentists into a tizzy over there and wreak havoc with the whole “floss is good” message sent to kids).  The three ingredients that make up cotton candy are, in order: air, sugar, and food coloring.  It’s ironic that people are paying for something they can breathe for free, but whatever.  Cotton candy is delicious.  Sure, it leaves your fingers sticky, but that just gives you an excuse to lick ‘em in public.

Incidentally, December 7th is National Cotton Candy Day.  It is also Pearl Harbor Day.  What better way to pay respect to our fallen war dead than by ingesting great gobs of artificially-colored sugar? 

Exhibit C: Shish Kebab.

Or kabob.  Or kabab, kebob, kibob, kebap, kebhav, kephav, qabab…

You know what?  Never mind.  This one isn’t fun anymore.

Exhibit D: Popsicle.

In 1905, an 11-year old boy named Frank Epperson was mixing water and powdered flavoring for a refreshing pop drink on his porch.  He left it outside overnight with the stick he’d used for stirring, and temperatures froze.  Voila!  Eighteen years later, he was selling “Epsicle ice pops” (vain much?) at an amusement park in California.  Lucky kid.  The only thing I ever left out overnight was a bicycle on the front lawn, and I sure never made millions of dollars off that blunder.  Anyway, Frank’s “frozen confectioneries” were a hit, so he applied for a patent, changed the name to Popsicles, and the rest is history. 

The success of Popsicles led to new frozen desserts on a stick, including Creamsicles, Fudgsicles, and Pudding Pops (the latter singlehandedly reviving Bill Cosby’s career in the 1980s…okay, that and some obscure sitcom with his name attached). 

Exhibit E: Marshmallows.

Originally derived from the root of the mallow plant – which grew in marshes (I kid you not) – marshmallows have been around for centuries.  Cat-worshipping, pyramid-building Egyptians extracted the sap, mixed it with nuts and honey, and created an early prototype of that Easter basket treat, Peeps.  Since then, marshmallows have been both miniaturized (the better to float atop hot cocoa) and blown up into giant proportions (the huge, villainous paranormal monster from Ghostbusters, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man).  Truth is, they’re rather bland in flavor. 

Quick! Somebody grab a stick and shove him over a fire!

However, impale them on a stick and roast them over a fire, and you have an entirely new – and better – creation.  The skin turns crispy as it chars, and the inside becomes a molten-hot liquid.  Provided you don’t burn your tongue off, these are fun to eat by themselves, and even more delicious when sandwiched between graham crackers with a slice of chocolate to create S’mores.  Best of all, though?  Letting ‘em burn.  Watching the blackened marshmallows twisting and coiling before disintegrating into nothingness, filling the air with a sweetly acrid odor as they melt, is a rite of passage for every camping trip. 

And with that, your honor, I rest my case.

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