The World-Famous Hushpuppy: A True, Tasty Success Story


Of all the great cuisine to come out of Southern-cooking kitchens, none is simpler, and perhaps more popular, than the hushpuppy.

These fried balls of dough that were once used to silence the hounds are now in high human demand at seafood restaurants and meat-and-threes all over the country, satisfying America's need for anything deep fried.

Sweet and salty, crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside, the humble hushpuppy has found a home in the hearts and stomachs of the masses. But it hasn't always been hushpuppy heaven for this cornmeal-based snack.

Although almost all agree that hushpuppies are tasty, few share the same theory on their beginnings. Many believe they are rooted in the rich history of Calabash-style seafood, where the leftover batter used to dredge fresh seafood for frying were dropped into the hot grease to make a corn fritter.

Others say the hushpuppy comes from the South Carolina Lowcountry plantations, where cooks used the dough balls to fend off the hounds while the good stuff was delivered from the kitchen to the plantation home. And Civil War buffs believe Confederate soldiers used them to quiet their guard dogs when attacking Yankees were approaching.

Of all the mystery theories out there about the origins of the hushpuppy, the only one known to be true attributed the name to shoes, not food. Adopted as a style of shoe designed to calm your barking dogs, aka your feet, the brown suede Hushpuppy became a fashion trend that lasted a few decades.

Nothing appetizing about feet, but the edible form of hushpuppies have had a longer lifespan than the shoe. Still served in seafood restaurants and other Grand Strand eateries, the hushpuppy is a favorite among visitors who can't get the same to find the same flavor back home.

Sit down at most seafood restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area and your party will likely be greeted by a large basket of these round morsels of cornmeal. Dip them into honey butter, catsup or eat them au naturale, and you won't care why they call them hushpuppies as long as they keep them coming. Just don’t fill up on too much dough before your fried shrimp platter arrives.

(posted 5/16/14)

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