State Fair Food Fight: Poncho Dogs vs. Pronto Pups

Two versions of this classic fair food, battling head to head

Two versions of this classic fair food, battling head to head

To the uninitiated, a corn dog is a corn dog; but the nuances are worth appreciating--whether it's the kind of dog used or the blend of flours in the batter.

In this Food Fight, we put to the test the original food-on-a-stick from two favorite State Fair institutions: Poncho Dog and Pronto Pup.


Pronto Pup Multiple locations (tested on Underwood opposite the Food Building)

This on-a-stick specimen starts with a beef and pork dog dipped in a batter made from a blend of seven kinds of flour (the staff would only divulge two kinds: wheat and corn), a mere one egg per bucket, and some milk. Consistency is this corn dog's game, with each one placed on a wheel that dunks them into hot oil to fry them for just the right amount of time.

"You can't leave these under a heat lamp," says one longtime Pronto Pup employee. "They get soggy if you do that."

It's that soft, doughy exterior that differentiates itself from Poncho Dog's offering, along with their (visibly) well-seasoned dogs.


And, whether you like it or not, someone paints on your condiments. Pretty snazzy.

At $3.75, Pronto Pup's corn dogs are a bit spendier than Poncho Dogs'.

Poncho Dog Multiple locations

Although the hot dog dipped at Poncho Dog isn't anything to write home about (made from chicken and pork), it matters far less after you taste the batter. Made specially for Poncho Dog by Pillsbury, it's sweeter than other corn dogs'. Since it's a proprietary blend, they weren't at liberty to share the ingredient list, but it's clear there's more cornmeal than Pronto Pup's because these could indeed be left under a heat lamp without suffering--not that it matters much, because each one is hand-battered and fried (no timed wheel here) and sells nearly as quickly as they can make them. And that extra cornmeal gives it just a slight extra crisp to each bite.

The lines tend to be shorter here than at Pronto Pup stands, meaning you get your corn dog faster. And not only that, but it's $3 to boot.

The Winner: Poncho Dog All things considered, at a lower price with a superior exterior flavor and texture, Poncho Dog is the winner in this food fight--although you'd be hard-pressed to go wrong either way.