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

Deep Fried Dynasty airs every Tuesday at 9 p.m. on A&E. Come back here every week for Alice Laussade’s recaps.

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

And to that, I say, “Shutupshutupshutup. Rick-Nado is bugging the hell out of Tami and I think she’s about to snap!” (Turns up the volume and fear-chugs Miller Lite at the screen.)

This week, Deep Fried Dynasty had the State Fair of Texas putting my heart at risk in a whole new way. Usually, it’s the artery-clogging fried foods that get me. This episode, though, my heart just about broke watching Abel Gonzales find out that one of his staffers suffered third-degree burns on her feet. Abel explains that she was draining the fryers, like she does every morning of the fair, and realized too late that somehow, the night before, the fryers were never turned off to let the oil cool. The plastic bucket she was using to catch the oil just didn’t hold up.

As Abel explains what happened, you can see he’s just wrecked. The Stifflers, his next-door fair neighbors, are clearly shaken up by the accident and talk solemnly about their past run-ins with fryer grease: Tami reveals that she once dropped a banana into the fryer causing grease to splash out, burning her face and neck. It’s not a surprise that these vendors, who have spent generations at the fryer, would have stories like these. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. When the Stifflers go over to check on Abel, and offer him any support he might need, Abel says he’s OK. (He’s not.)

Meanwhile, at the Nevins Concessions booth, which focuses on fair food classics like hamburgers and beer, we meet Tami Jo and Josey Nevins. “Awards are nice, but money is better,” Josey says, defending their choice to focus on staples rather than “one-hit wonders.”

To illustrate the point, Tami Jo explains the benefits of “stick food.” Their new stand is all meats on sticks: sausage on a stick, wagyu beef on a stick, bacon-wrapped pork on a stick. Sounds glorious.

Tami Jo says “the original meat on a stick is a corn dog.” And while the history lesson is appreciated, her use of “corn dog” instead of corny dog makes my Texan ears ring in a sudden bout of fried stress-tinnitus. 

How in the whole wide world is Tami Jo Nevins a corn dog person, and not a corny dog person? And don’t come at me like this is 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 73 years. She birthed a baby at the fair. She just taught me about the history of stick food. How is this possible? 

I digress. The show is still going… I see that Chef Cassy is getting a dumpling machine, which is fantastic and will likely make a huge difference for her booth, and it’s raining at the fair, and everyone’s having a bad day except the Funnel Cake People who are dancing in cash while they make indoor funnel cakes during a torrential downpour…

But I’m still stuck on Tami Jo’s “corn dog.” How could she have said this? Lots of unreasonable explanations fly through the mind, including but not limited to: 

  1. Maybe A&E edited out the “y” because these producers aren’t 4th generation State Fair of Texas concessionaires who know all this meat stick history, so they thought she misspoke.
  2. Fletcher’s must have a trademark on “corny dog,” so she can’t say it on national TV. (Because that’s how trademarks work? And the Trademark Superheroes of America–which is 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 this is obviously a robot spy sent from outer space to learn how we make fried cookie dough stay in cookie dough form and not turn into cookies when we fry it.
  4. OMG She’s Batman. I’ve never seen her in the same place as Robert Pattinson.
  5. Speaking of Fletcher’s, this was the first episode where I really wished they had participated in this show, so we could have a heated exchange about “corny” versus “corn.”
  6. Also speaking of Fletcher’s, remember that time recently when they were all in the news because their whole family is mad that one of the grandkids wanted to open a restaurant called Fletch, clearly due to her obsession with the 1985 movie starring Chevy Chase, and she forgot to tell her grandma, so she got sued? Why do they hate comedy crime mysteries so bad?
  7. Seriously, you guys. She’s Batman.

And then, Tami Jo orders wine for her booth over the phone, and I’m shocked back on track. She orders 40 cases, and the person on the phone replies, “That’s 160 gallons.” Sweet Frozen Bellini Jesus, we’re measuring wine in gallons, y’all. This truly is the great State Fair of Texas.


Alice Laussade

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