History of Hushpuppies
The hushpuppy machine at Millers Seafood and Steakhouse
The Story Behind Hushpuppies
If you’re eating fried seafood, chances are it will be accompanied by tasty golden brown nuggets known as hushpuppies. They are made into balls or fingers from thick cornmeal batter, then dropped into a deep fryer and cooked till crisp, but stay soft and chewy in the middle. Hushpuppies can be found everywhere from town to town at many of the Outer Banks Restaurants. Hushpuppies are deliciously famous, but where in the world did they come from? What is the history behind the hushpuppy? Here are some versions of the story of how hushpuppies found their name.
The oldest hushpuppy story in which the recipe was first originated begins with them saying that it took the French to teach Southerners how to fry cornmeal batter. In the 1720s, French Ursuline nuns arrived in New Orleans and adopted cornmeal from local Native Americans and made hand-shaped patties that they called croquettes de maise or corn croquettes. The recipe then began to spread all across the South.
Hush That Dog Up
The most common myth is that when fishermen would be cooking their catch of the day, their dogs would waiting next to them begging for a bite. The cooks would fry bits of dough and throw it to the pups to hush them up.
The Civil War
Another folktale of the origin of hushpuppies comes from the South during the Civil War when Confederate soldiers would be sitting around a campfire preparing their meals. After suddenly hearing the Yankee soldiers approaching, they would toss their barking dogs some fried cornmeal cakes ordering them to “hush, puppies!”
Red Horse Bread
The southerners were enjoying Red Horse Bread for at least two decades before “hushpuppy” appeared. It wasn’t red in color and had nothing to do with horses at all. It was one of the common species of fish (along with bream, catfish, and trout) that were caught in South Carolina and served at fish fries. Globs of cornmeal were fried in the same grease as the Red Horse fish.
If one thing is for sure, it’s that Southerners know the perfect way to cook up fried food and a good story. While we’re on the topic of good southern comfort food, here are some Outer Banks Restaurants that offer those tasty fried cornmeal dough balls we today still call hushpuppies. The restaurants are listed from north to south.
Simply Southern Kitchen
Authentic Southern Cuisine presented through real, home-cooking family recipes. Hushpuppies are prepared golden fried served with homemade honey butter at Simply Southern Kitchen.
Lifesaving Station Restaurant
Located in the original—and splendidly restored—Caffey’s Inlet Life Saving Station No. 5, the Lifesaving Station is Sanderling’s casual, three-meal-a-day restaurant celebrating southern coastal cuisine and fresh regional products. The Lifesaving Station offers Goat Cheese Hushpuppies served with local honey as a starter.
Juicy King Seafood Restaurant
The newest addition to the Kitty Hawk Restaurant area. Juicy King is here to provide an unforgettable dining experience for all our patrons. Casual, hands-on joint for Cajun crawfish, shrimp, mussel, clam & lobster with a choice of seasonings & spice levels.
High Cotton Barbeque
High Cotton Barbeque is loved by locals and has become one of the “must visit” establishments for any Outer Banks vacation. High Cotton BBQ is available for dine-in or carry-out. It easy to pick up lunch for the beach or dinner on the go at your cottage.
Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet
Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet provides flavors from all over the world with an emphasis on a Caribbean twist added to the usual seafood fare. They purchase as much local fish and shellfish as possible, and then we obviously get crab legs from all over: Florida to Alaska and back to North Carolina. Jimmy is a fun place for the entire family.
I Got Your Crabs
I Got Your Crabs is a locally owned and family operated restaurant in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. While blue crabs will always be the focus, they’re proud to serve a variety of seafood for dine in or take out. Open from 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM daily throughout the year.
Shipwrecks Taphouse & Grill
Kitty Hawks hottest new restaurant! Shipwrecks offers Lunch, Dinner and Events, and a pet-friendly environment we truly are your one stop for all family fun.
Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar
Awful Arthur’s isn’t just about oysters, there’s also a wide selection of crab legs and clams from the steamer, fried seafood, or steaks, chicken, pasta and salads to choose from that keep people coming back year after year.
From the unique atmosphere to the unmistakably home-cooked cuisine, everything about The Jolly Roger is welcoming, warm, and completely unlike any other restaurant in the area.
Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant
Every member of your party will enjoy an ultimate seafood experience at Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant with over 70 mouth-watering items to choose from. Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant is a proud member of Outer Banks Catch, serving fresh, local seafood. Open 7 days a week, year round. Located at MP 8.5 on the bypass.
Pigman’s has been serving up Pork, Chicken, Beef, Turkey and Tuna BBQ for the masses on the Outer Banks for 32 years! Customers can expect to fill up the rest of their plate with Pigman’s classic southern fixings and sides like hushpuppies, fries, cornbread, potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw!
Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse
Along with its scrumptious cuisine, Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse offers a warm friendly atmosphere coupled with genuine Outer Banks hospitality. Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse is more than just a great restaurant. It’s a tradition among Kill Devil Hills restaurants and the Outer Banks.
Nags Head Pier House Restaurant
The Pier House Restaurant sits right on the beautiful Atlantic ocean with amazing ocean views. The menu can satisfy any appetite offering a wide variety of dishes including the freshest seafood available. Fresh seafood can’t get any fresher than when you catch it and we cook it right here. You Hook Em – We Cook Em!
Dirty Dick’s Crab House
A funny name and a great business! Dirty Dick’s has a menu full of fresh, local seafood with a New Orleans accent. Bring your group, bring your family for a fun time and great food at Dirty Dick’s! Locations in Nags Head and Avon.
Sooey’s offers Eastern NC Style BBQ all over the OBX. Located in Wanchese Marina, Nags Head, Duck and Corolla. Dine in or enjoy their outdoor pet-friendly seating. Enjoy ocean view deck dining at their Nags Head restaurant. Pig out on takeout! Catering available.
Mulligans Grille in Historic Cottage Row
Surrounded by historic ocean views in Nags Head, your family will enjoy an eclectic menu that evolves seasonally with local seafood and other fresh ingredients, all served by a staff eager to continue the iconic Outer Banks experience. Mulligans Raw Bar is proud to have served Outer Banks locals and visitors alike for over 20 years!
Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant
Located on the beautiful Roanoke Sound, the view is always breathtaking. The Waterfront Sunset Bar & Grill is the newest addition to the Miller’s experience. Located upstairs, the Sunset Bar & Grill features delicious cocktails, a wide selection of craft beers, a full menu of creative casual fare, and the best views in Nags Head.
Sugar Shack Seafood Market
Sugar Shack Seafood Market serves sandwiches, baskets & steamed buckets to go! Steam bar seating inside or waterfront dining outside. Fresh seafood, steamer buckets and more.
Sugar Creek Restaurant
Experience the best sound front dining the Outer Banks has to offer! Sugar Creek sits on a prime sunset location with plenty of water view seating. The Chef prides himself in purchasing the highest quality local seafood while having it prepared in the traditional Outer Banks style.
Family owned and operated. The Owens family invites you to visit them in Nags Head for some of the best Southern coastal cuisine the Outer Banks has to offer. Everything that can be sourced locally is done so, and the food is prepared simply and respectfully – something that can be felt with every bite.
So there you have it! Now you know how those fried delicious pieces of cornmeal got their name. Hushpuppies can either be served as an appetizer with a side of homemade honey butter. Or can be served as a side accompanied with fried seafood. Try some at one of your local Outer Banks Restaurants.