Deep Fried Dynasty: We Can’t Stop Thinking About Tami Jo’s Corn Dog

Fried Dynasty airs every Tuesday at 9 p.m. on A&E. Check back here weekly for recaps from Alice Laussade.


Made:1 Reality television has grown in popularity because everyone wants to escape the stress of their own lives by watching someone else’s problems unfold in real time. Once a week. During 30 minutes. You might say, “No, Alice, that’s not true. Reality television gained popularity due to a writers’ strike. Many shows had to be canceled, paving the way for shows like Survivor and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for really—”

And to that, I say, “Shutupshutupshutup. Rick-Nado bugs Tami and I think she’s about to snap! (Turn up the volume and scare Miller Lite on screen.)

This weekFried Dynasty the State Fair of Texas put my heart at risk in a whole new way. Usually it’s the fried foods that clog the arteries that get me. This episode, however, my heart almost broke watching Abel Gonzales find out that one of his co-workers suffered third-degree burns to his feet. Abel explains that she was emptying the fryers, as she does every morning at the fair, and realized too late that somehow, the night before, the fryers had never been turned off to let the oil cool. The plastic bucket she used to catch the oil just didn’t hold up.

As Abel explains what happened, you can see he’s just destroyed. The Stifflers, her next-door neighbors, are clearly shaken by the accident and speak solemnly of their past run-ins with fryer grease: Tami reveals that she once dropped a banana in the fryer, causing splatters of grease, burning his face. and the neck. It’s no surprise that these salespeople, who have spent generations frying, have stories like these. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. When the Stifflers go to see Abel and offer him any support he might need, Abel says he’s fine. (He is not.)

Meanwhile, at the Nevins Concessions booth, which focuses on fair-food classics like burgers and beer, we meet Tami Jo and Josey Nevins. “Rewards are good, but cash is better,” Josey says, defending their choice to focus on staples rather than “blockbuster wonders.”

To illustrate this point, Tami Jo explains the benefits of “stick food”. Their new stand is all meat on sticks: sausage on stick, wagyu beef on stick, bacon wrapped pork on stick. It sounds glorious.

Tami Jo says “the original meat on a stick is corn dog.” And while the history lesson is appreciated, his use of “corn dog” instead of cornthere dog rings my Texas ears in a sudden bout of fried stress tinnitus.

How in the world is Tami Jo Nevins a corn dog, and not a nerdy dog? And don’t come to me like it’s a debate. It’s not. Either you’ve eaten enough corny dogs and had enough Miller Lite right now to have this conversation, or you haven’t.

Tami Jo’s family has been at the fair for 73 years. She gave birth to a baby at the just. She just taught me the history of food sticks. How is it possible?

I digress. The show goes on… I see Chef Cassy getting a dumpling machine, which is fantastic and will probably make a huge difference to her booth, and it’s raining at the fair, and everyone is having a bad day except the Funnel Cake People dancing in liquid as they bake funnel-shaped cakes indoors during a torrential downpour…

But I’m still stuck on Tami Jo’s “Corn Dog”. How could she say that? Many unreasonable explanations cross your mind, including but not limited to:

  1. Maybe A&E removed the “y” because these producers aren’t 4and generation of State Fair of Texas dealers who know this whole meat stick thing, so they thought she misspoke.
  2. Fletcher must have a trademark on “corny dog,” so she can’t say it on national television. (Because that’s how trademarks work? And the Trademark Superheroes of America – that’s obviously what they’re called because that’s what TSA stands for – would totally give someone a trademark for the words “corny dog?”)
  3. Tami Jo wouldn’t say that so it’s obviously a spy robot sent from space to learn how we make fried cookie dough stay as cookie dough and not turn into cookies when we do it let’s fry.
  4. Oh my God, it’s Batman. I never saw her in the same place as Robert Pattinson.
  5. Speaking of Fletcher, this was the first episode where I really wish they’d been on this show, so we could have a heated exchange over “nerdy” vs. “corn.”
  6. Also speaking of Fletcher’s, remember that time they all made the headlines because their whole family is mad that one of the grandkids wants to open a restaurant called Fletch, clearly due to his obsession with 1985 movie with Chevy Chase, and she forgot to tell her grandmother, so she got sued? Why do they hate comic crime mysteries so much?
  7. Seriously, guys. She is Batman.

And then, Tami Jo orders wine for her booth over the phone, and I’m shocked to get back on track. She orders 40 cases and the person on the phone replies, “That’s 160 gallons.” Sweet Frozen Bellini Jesus, we measure wine in gallons, y’all. It really is the great state fair of Texas.

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