Saturday, March 22 is the officially designated day to celebrate a great, truly American food – the corndog, according to www.corndogday.com National Corndog Day coincides with the Saturday of the final 32 teams in NCAA basketball tournament.

One of the only local sources for freshly-made, hand-dipped Corndogs is going all out. At The Wiener and Still Champion, 802 Dempster St., Evanston, Corndogs are now offered in more ways than anywhere else on the planet. Says owner Gus Paschalis “We developed our own recipe for the ultimate Corndog last year, and they’ve really taken off. But now we’re gilding the lily.” In addition to the standard Corndog (officially Dipping Dogs™ at The Wiener and Still Champion), the restaurant is offering a wide array of dipping sauces to enhance the Dipping Dog. “We’ve spent the last year developing all these sauces. We have more than just mustard or ketchup available – you can get a mild sauce, a garlic aoli, spicy mustard, curry ketchup, honey mustard, and even our own Argentine garlic and herb sauce. They each go well with a Dipping Dog, and each gives the dog its own unique personality.” Paschalis notes they all also go well with his “Somewhat Famous” fresh hand-cut French Fries.

To celebrate National Corndog Day on Saturday March 22, The Wiener and Still Champion will offer Dipping Dogs for the one-day-only special price of $1.25 each. In addition, they will be giving away free any choice of dipping sauce to anyone who purchases three Dipping Dogs. Additional sauces are only 50¢ each.

The fact that The Wiener and Still Champion’s Dipping Dogs have taken off has received a lot of notice, including discussion on WGN radio, and a feature segment on Channel 7 news by Emmy-winning food reporter Steve Dolinsky.

Paschalis spent many months and man-hours developing his recipe for his Dipping Dogs. Befitting his background in food science and food product development, Paschalis tested a wide range of batters and sausages for the ultimate corndog. “The natural casing dogs that I serve at the restaurant [for anyone ordering a Chicago-style hot dog, or one of its many variants] didn't work. The batter didn’t stick to it and you really had to bite down hard on it.” So he did an extensive search for the right hot dog. After sampling many, he found a supplier who could provide a product that was perfect for a corn dog batter.

Paschalis then enlisted the talents and tastes of many members of LTHForum.com, the noted Chicago-based culinary discussion website, as tasters. One taster said ”The hot dog was the same in all trials and seems like the perfect choice. A bit garlicky with a fatty juiciness I really liked.”

But it was the batter that proved to be the real challenge. While Paschalis admitted there are commercial mixes available for corndog batters, he wanted to better them and make his own proprietary batter. Testing recipes that ranged from the traditional to recipes based on Jamaican bread traditions, he finally settled – based on significant input from his LTHForum.com tasting panel - on a specific mixture of cornmeal, flour and other ingredients that provided just the right crunch to surround the hot dog, without being overly bready or cake-like. “The great flavor of the sausage has to come through, with the corn flavor and texture as a crisp compliment.” says Paschalis.