The Corndog Man

From the East Oregonian
Friday, November 28, 2003
Article by Jeannine Koranda
Photos by Tom Terjeson

Bernard Lind's corndogs are so good people get off the interstate to buy them.

Lind, from Umatilla, runs a mobile corndog stand which he puts up every holiday season in Pendleton's Melanie Square.

Bernard Lind

"I have a lot of seniors who come and who only eat corndogs once a year, and it is here," he said. Lind contends he has the best corndogs anywhere, which is why people line up each year at his stand outside Rite-Aid and buy sacks full ofthe battered and fried hot dogs. He said one customer gets off the interstate every year and buys 36 comdogs to take to her sister near Seattle, where the corndogs are put in the freezer.

Many of his customers bought his corndogs when they were children and are now bringing their children to the stand, he said.

"Everyone waits for them, these are awesome," said Heather Sandford, who was buying a bag of six com dogs Tuesday for her family. It's something people look forward to each year, she added.

Four years ago, Lind took over running the stand from his father, Francis, who had developed the corndog recipe he uses and had run the stand since 1949.

For the first three years after taking over, Lind had other people run the booth but found that didn't work. "You have to put your heart and soul into it," he said.

When he took over from his father, Lind started using a larger trailer and selling other items like caramel and candied apples, stocking stuffer candy, elephant ears and cotton candy.

At first, people weren't coming to the stand so he put up a picture of his father, and people started coming again. Being in the same spot for 27 years was another key to his success.

Another part of the secret is good batter, which he makes from scratch. If the batter is too runny, it comes off the corndog. If it is too thick it stays raw in the middle, he noted.

"If you don't hand dip them you've already lost the battle," Lind said.

The other key ingredient, obviously is the hot dog. Lind gets his from Hill Meat in Pendleton.People see the lines of customers buying corndogs and think it'd be a great business to have, but the reality is it's a lot of long hours and hard work, he said.

"You don't sit down much," he said.

Lind takes his stand around Washington, Idaho and Oregon, but he said nowhere quite compares to the following he has in Pendleton.

With competition from gas stations, stores and fund-raising groups selling corndogs, it can be difficult, he said.

It's also hard to get into some fairs and events to sell because people don't want to take business from the fund-raising groups, he said. He would like to set up the stand at more events in Pendleton, like the state basketball tournament, but he said he can't get permission.

Still, Lind likes what he does and has a product he believes in. He also enjoys being his own boss.

Aside from corndogs, Lind is always looking for unique things to sell or something to set him apart. This year he is selling gummy Band-Aids, gum shaped like crayons, and hard candy with a real scorpion inside.

He also avoids using quarters or single dollar bills. Instead he gives out 5O-cent coins, dollar coins and $2 bills.

"I want to be different, I want something people will remember me by," he said.

His father ran the stand into his 70s. Lind, who is 42, figures he can keep doing it for another 20 years.


Corn Dogs Run in the Family

From the East Oregonian
Friday, November 25, 2006
Article by Allison Cox

PENDLETON - While he doesn't live in the area, Bernard Lind, of Cowiche, Wash., is committed to the people of Pendleton and the surrounding communities.

His commitment is demonstrated each year when he braves the cold and brings his corn dog stand to the parking lot of Rite Aid.

"Dad started the corn dog business in 1949," Lind said of his father, Francis, who passed away in 2004. "This is our 37th year here in Pendleton."

Lind, the only son of Francis Lind and his wife, Dolores Lind, who still lives in Umatilla, 'said when he's gone, the tradition may die with him.

That's why he has the same dream his father had -- to market the corn dog mix to customers nationwide.

"You sit here for a month and you hear 50 times a day that people only eat corn dogs once a year, and it's ours," Lind said. "My hope some' day is for Pendleton to not only be known for the Round-Up but for the corn dog mix that's known all over the United States."

"We get quite a few questions from customers who come here and want to know when he's coming," said Rite Aid Manager, John Bieker. "They look forward to it."

Bieker. who has worked at Rite Aid for nine years, said that although he doesn't usually eat corn dogs, the ones offered by Lind "sure taste good."

Lind comes to Pendleton during Round-Up, but said that is a different crowd.

"We do well at the Round-Up, but it would take four seasons to sell as many corn dogs as we sell here at Rite Aid in one season," Lind said. "The crowd here, only about 20 per¬cent of them, go to the Round-Up. If you told my crowd here that the foot-longs go for $4 at the Round-Up they'd probably pass out."

It's all about volume, according to Lind, and the volume during the holiday season, is good enough to keep things going.

"I haven't 'changed the price," Lind said of holiday sales. "It's the same as when dad retired. I think it's been the same price for 14 years."

Lind said he misses his father, even after two years. He's concerned that, as his father's only son and with no children of his own, the tradition of the corn dog stand will die with him, leaving the masses gourmet corn-dogless.

"People don't realize," said Lind's mother, a retired Umatilla school teacher. "They're all hand-dipped. There's nothing like them any¬where."

"I won't be here forever,"Lind said' of the future of the stand. "It would be nice to be able to sell the mix, packaged with the history on the back, to people in the grocery store."

But that's expensive and complicated. For now, he mixes up 250-pound batches of dry mix, which he goes through in two days. He said he gets orders en masse from organizations including schools, and the courthouse, and days in the stand can turn into 12-hour marathons.

"When it turns into a real winter, 10 below, the river freezes, we're still open," Lind said. "This trailer's wide open, you've really got to be devoted. People who don't eat corn dogs look at you like your crazy, but you've got to be open."

Now that's commitment.


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