Pendleton has deep-fried tradition

From the Tri-City Herald
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Article by Eleanor Cummins

Man runs corn dog stand every year around Christmas

PENDLETON - Talk to those who've tasted Bernard Lind's Pendleton corn dogs and you'll likely hear a frenzy of praise, excitement and stories of corn dogs past.

Cindy Bradley of Pendleton, an employee at Walker's Furniture and Mattress across the street from the popular stand about 65 miles southeast of the Tri-Cities, says that her sons, who live in Wyoming and North Carolina, "like to get in to town every year in time to get the corn dogs."

Lind, 51, opens his stand one or two days before Thanksgiving and stops churning up the special homemade batter on Christmas Eve.

The recipe, perfected by his father, is so beloved that people travel to Pendleton from the Tri-Cities to purchase the dogs, Lind says. Customers are known to "buy between 15 and 50 corn dogs at a time" and freeze them for the off-season, he said.

The seasonal Pendleton corn dog stand opened in 1978, when Lind's father had to figure out a way to make ends meet after a union strike at Marlette Trailer Homes in Hermiston left him without a steady paycheck and unable to pay for gifts or holiday food for his wife and children.

Lind sells the same "gourmet" corn dogs his father sold in an 8-by-22-foot stand parked at 2003 S.W. Emigrant Ave.

To make ends meet, his father, Francis Lind, decided to sell corn dogs made from a special recipe he had been perfecting for years.

The manager of the Pendleton Payless Drugstore agreed to let him sell his corn dogs outside the drugstore.

His father sold them from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve that year, and then returned to work at Marlette when the strike ended.

He never planned to return. But calls started coming into the drugstore from customers wondering when the corn dogs would be back.

During the holiday season in 1979, he sold the dogs on the weekends, working full time at Marlette during the week.

He ran the stand every holiday season until his retirement in 1999. The following year he hired a couple to run the stand, but was dissatisfied with their work.

Threatened with having to close it, he begged his son to take over.

Bernard Lind was reluctant because it would require him to live in a motel in Pendleton and be separated from his family for months at a time. He lives in Cowiche, about 160 miles from Pendleton.

But in 2001, he said he decided to "make the sacrifice" and carry on his father's legacy.

When not running the seasonal stand in Pendleton, Bernard Lind sells his dogs at fairs and other events throughout the region.

Some may remember the Linds selling the corn dogs at the Umatilla County Fair. Bernard Lind also sells them in Moses Lake at the annual Spring Festival, Grant County Fair and at the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce's Balloon Stampede.

His father's recipe really does make "the best corn dog ever," Bernard Lind said.

The stand offers a 6-inch regular, a 12-inch corn dog, and a German sausage corn dog on a stick.

You can't use a bad hot dog," he said, "I buy from Pendleton's local Hills Meat Company.

"You also have to use the right kind of cornmeal. You need good ingredients. There are four different kinds of spices - all kinds of secret stuff," Bernard Lind said.

The stand sells a variety of sides. Bernard Lind said the most popular dishes are butter-breaded mushrooms, ribbon fries, beer-battered onion rings, elephant ears and funnel cakes.

"The dogs are fantastic," said Bradley, a longtime customer. "They are hand-battered and fried right there in front of you."

"They don't just sit under a lamp waiting for you," agreed Liz Pierce, vendor coordinator for Walla Walla Balloon Stampede.

Bernard Lind said area kids organize "corn dog days" in the winter to visit the stand.

Many Pendleton residents are lifelong patrons, Bernard Lind said.

Part of the appeal, Bernard Lind explained, is that the prices are low. "They haven't changed much since my dad's time."

A 6-inch dog is $1.50 and a footlong is $2.50.

"I can afford to keep prices low because of the volume of my sales," he said.

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