|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 Phrases.org 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