Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday Trivia: Hush Puppies

Anyone growing up in the southern U.S. knows about hush puppies. They’re these yummy cornbread balls, seasoned with herbs and fried golden brown. But how in the world did they come to be associated with the canine? Many unsubstantiated tales abound.

Photo: jeffreyw on flickr via Creative Commons

The most unlikely of which, World Wide Words tells us, is the one that places its origin during the time of the Civil War. According to this tale, Confederate soldiers would feed their dogs fried bits of dough to keep them quiet, thus preserving the secrecy of their bivouac.

Etymologists view the Civil War aspect of this tale with great skepticism. They do agree, however, that the “puppy” part probably did originate as a way to keep hungry pups away from “people food”!

The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the "deep-fried ball of cornmeal batter" was “first attested” in 1899, but we couldn’t find the source OED claims contained the reference.

So we’re going with on this one and using the 1918 reference, published in the American Dialect Society’s journal, Dialect Notes, as the hush puppy’s first known use in print.

"Hush, pup!" photos by tobias.fuchs and
Angie Tan via Creative Commons

Though this part is unsubstantiated, the name might have been influenced by the fact that in some areas in the southern U.S., fishermen would catch and batter-fry a type of salamander known as a “mud puppy” or “water dog.”

We can see how a hush puppy might temporarily appease a salivating dog attending an outdoor fish fry, can’t you?

World Wide Words
Online Etymology Dictionary
Wikipedia: The American Dialect Society
The Encyclopedia Britannica: Mud Puppies


  1. Now your making us hungry. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. I've never tasted a hush puppy, they look yum though.. mmmmm
    Love Milo :)

  3. Honey you're talking out language now!! We're from the South and hush puppies are a fave especially with fried catfish and fries...Yes, they are the best...what we call "good eats"!

  4. Those hush puppies do look tasty! I must admit, I have never eaten one. I'll have to look up a recipe and try to make some.

  5. Interesting! All we know is that hushpuppies are NOMMY! :)

  6. My Mom loves hush puppies too but in this house we call them hush kitties....HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Kitty Hugs, Sammy

  7. Well we've never tried hush puppies here...though I'd like to tell a certain orange kitty to HUSH.
    ; ) Katie

  8. Je ne connais pas cette spécialité, cela semble très bon!
    ronrons d'Opale et SOnye

  9. Hush puppies are Southern?! We're such southern cats that we didn't know that. We thought they were universal!

  10. Folks just toss some cornmeal, an egg, garlic, chive, and salt with water, til barely blended, roll 'em up & toss 'em in hot oil until golden brown! A meal in itself!

  11. Hush puppies are a little piece of heaven on earth! However, we're glad they are made with cornmeal and not mud puppies. We've always heard the story about keeping the dogs quiet, but they are too yummy to throw at the dogs.

  12. Wherever or however they came about, Mom says she could care less; though your post, as always, is interesting. She just knows that they taste delicious. We've never had any, of course. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  13. We thought Hush Puppies were shoes ( they are over here ) LOL those look super yummy xxoxxx

    Mollie and Alfie


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