Food and Drink: What made the kwiki such a Mexico favorite?

Food and Drink: What made the kwiki such a Mexico favorite?
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

Terry Littrell remembered it as wrinkled and slathered with a rudimentary sauce. From his description one could be forgiven if they considered it a culinary catastrophe.

“But,” he said, “it was the best hot dog you ever ate.”

The dog in question was the “kwiki” served at the old Dairy Pride in Mexico. Just a battered and fried hot dog on a stick, but one with a devoted following.

Indeed, the 1969 Mexico High School yearbook salutes the then popular diner, but admits that Dairy Pride was “better known to MHS students as the kwiki stand.”

And Steve Hobbs recalls that instead of lunch, people used to say “I’m going for a kwiki.”

So what was this kwiki?

“It’s like a corn dog, but not a corn dog,” said Kristina Love in a valiant effort to explain.

There are similarities. Both are mounted on a stick, dipped in batter and dropped into sizzling oil. The differences depend on the source, but can be narrowed down.

In a 2015 Pinterest thread seeking the original kwiki recipe, a response borrowing from a former Dairy Pride employee put the ratio of flour to cornmeal in the coating at two to one. It also included a cup of canned milk and an egg.

The batter was to rest for an hour and be thinned with a little water.

But others refer to powdered eggs, and buttermilk for the thinning process. And there are those who specify white corn meal.

Keep in mind that the kwiki was not unique to Mexico. An advertisement in the April 10, 1952 edition of the Spartanburg Herald in South Carolina declared the “kwiki is a hot dog on a stick dipped in Kwiki Mix and French-fried.”

It did not elaborate on the make up of Kwiki Mix.

An operation known as Ricci’s Kwiki sets up at the Canfield Fair in Ohio every year, as far back as 1948. The owners told a local paper of purchasing the flour in bulk from Chicago until the mill stopped producing it.

“Eleven years ago when my sister went to order the flour, they sent the check back and said ‘we don’t make it anymore. You were the last people in the United States who used that flour,’” Ricci’s’ Phyllis Shoemaker told the reporter. So the owners began milling their own.

Unfortunately, the story didn’t probe further into the composition of this “flour.” There are vague notations about kwikis made with pancake mix, perhaps with a toss of cornmeal.

One Ricci’s regular, however, explained that the dip at Ricci’s was cornbread batter, which further confuses things. The Pinterest recipe resembles a light cornbread.

But there are versions of cornbread popular in the south that rely heavily on cornmeal, which would seem to be the origin of the Fletcher’s Corny Dog, first introduced at the Texas State Fair in 1942.

“Everyone tried to duplicate it, but nobody could,” Littrell said of the Dairy Pride version.

Steve Hobbs — who as presiding commissioner of Audrain County speaks with authority — was never a fan of the kwiki. He preferred mustard to the tacky barbecue sauce.

He refers, however, to the now defunct Hillside, a Mexico miniature golf course. At some point they attempted to resurrect the dish.

“It tasted just as I remembered it,” Hobbs said.

The biggest difference between a kwiki and a regular corn dog might have been the process. After being battered up, the kwikis were dropped into the fryer.

So far, so familiar. But after being pulled from the oil and drained, kwikis went in for a second time. Fry, dry, repeat.

Littrell noted that after a hard football practice he could down four, perhaps five kwikis.

“They were awesome,” he exclaimed.

That — and the lighter load of cornmeal — distinguished it as a kwiki. One wonders why it is so rarely found on restaurant menus.

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