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Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has been a mantra for the Fletcher family business for 80 years.

Fletcher’s golden-brown treats have been tickling taste buds for 80 years and occupy an important place in the Texas trophy case of storied people, places, and things.

In 1938, brothers Neil and Carl Fletcher invented a new food item they dubbed the “Corny Dog.” They debuted their creation at the 1942 State Fair of Texas, and the rest is history. In 1988, Neil passed away, leaving the business to his two sons, Neil Jr. (“Skip”) and Bill.

Since Skip’s passing in 2017, the company has been owned and operated by his wife of 40 years, GG; his two children, Aaron and Amber; his brother, Bill; as well as Bill’s son, W.C., and W.C.’s wife, Rebecca.

GG and Amber recently spoke about the business longevity, favorite moments, and exciting new directions.

“It’s definitely a family business through and through, with three generations actively running the company,” says GG, the lively family matriarch.  

Most families have their share of landmines. How about the Fletchers?

“Well, it is family,” says Amber with a laugh.

“We may disagree strongly sometimes,” GG says. “But we always manage to...understand that the most important thing is that we keep [the business] alive and stay on the same page as much as possible.”

After eight decades, Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs is a household brand in Texas, especially in Dallas-Fort Worth, something GG describes as “humbling” and “a big responsibility.”

“I am so happy that all the ‘kids,’ as I call them, understand,” GG says. “We always [focus on] quality control. I still take a bite of a Corny Dog at whatever event I attend. If I can say, ‘This is still so good,’ then I know we’re hitting the mark.”

The Fletcher's name has become synonymous with the State Fair of Texas since it made its debut there in 1942. More than 500,000 Corny Dogs are sold annually at the event, which is held for 24 days in September and October.

For family members, the nostalgia they feel each Fall is profound.

The first bite “immediately takes me back,” GG says. “Suddenly you see all those fairs, right before your eyes.”

“I get chills and think, ‘It’s almost here! The most exciting time of the year,’” says Amber, adding that each Fall she reverts to childhood memories over the years. “Sometimes I have to remind myself I’m a 35-year-old, and this is not playtime.”

Corny Dogs may appear playful, but when your last name is Fletcher, it is serious business.

Amber conducts her own yearly focus groups, standing at the back of lines, closely monitoring consumers’ experiences, listening, and even keeping a clock on wait times. “I want to experience what they’re experiencing, just to make sure it’s a happy one,” she explains.

She instructs employees (about 200 each fair season) to keep their eyes and ears open. “They’ll serve hundreds of Corny Dogs a day, however folks wait all year long...spending their hard-earned money. They want the best experience. And that’s what we need to give them,” Amber says. “While someone may think, ‘well, this one is a little burned, but it’s OK...’ It’s not OK for that customer.”

“I’ve been there 43 years,” GG adds. “We have customers who’ve been coming for much longer than that. Some come on the first day of the fair and that’s their tradition. They’ll have their children or grandchildren sharing the experience. I get goosebumps talking about it.”

Last year, Fletcher’s took an interesting step into new territory working with Goldbelly, an e-commerce food distribution site that delivers Corny Dogs from coast to coast, a benefit for homesick Texans. In the past year, Fletcher’s has shipped to all 50 states. They also purchased mobile food trailers in 2019 for catering, pop-up festivals, and more.

With 80 years to celebrate, what’s ahead?

The Fletchers recently announced a partnership with Klyde Warren Park. Plans call for permanently parking their first-ever food truck at the park’s new East Lawn, bringing a taste of the State Fair to the popular urban green space all year round.

“Aaron, W.C., and Amber are primarily responsible for moving forward with other family members,” GG says. “They all have a vision for expansion.”

The goal is to keep it a family business as long as possible and give new generations something to look forward to each year. Here’s hoping for another 80 years.

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