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Monday, February 25, 2013

Things I Learned at the Oregon Coast

Posted by Alison Hallett on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 1:29 PM

I've spent the past two weeks at the coast: First Neskowin, for an annual family beach trip, and then up to Astoria for the 16th annual Fisher Poets Gathering.

I learned two things.

Thing 1: An Oregon company called Pronto Pup claims to have invented the corndog. The above poster hung in the house we rented in Neskowin. It was a source of some fascination, for obvious reasons. (Why are the tiny corn dogs wearing sombreros?) You can't quite see it, but the small text at the bottom of the poster reads "Home Office, Pronto Pup Co, Portland 12, Oregon." So we did some research:


Early in 1941, George and Vera Boyington's dreams became reality when their ingenious Pronto Pup became a nation-wide hit, revolutionizing America's fast-food industry and kicking off the franchise craze.

The Pups are plump and tasty hot dogs on a stick, coated with the special batter and deep-fried to a golden brown. Most of us have sampled and savored Pronto Pups at carnivals, county fairs and even at main street vendors. An off-brand version is commonly known to the uninitiated as corndogs.

Some casual Googling suggests that the corndog was not, in fact, "invented" in Oregon, but that Pronto Pup certainly helped to popularize it. The company is still around, selling corndog mix and other deep-fryer based foods.

Thing 2: Astoria's Fisher Poets Gathering is an amazing thing. The festival, which just celebrated its 16th year, draws fisher-folk from around the world to share poetry, songs, and stories about their work. Oregon Arts Watch has a great long article which really captures the gathering's flavor and appeal. This year was my first visit, and—though I am naggingly aware that people like me will probably be the death of this thing—I will most certainly be back.
Subthing: The Columbian Cafe is the greatest place ever.

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