EDINBURGH, Ind. — This is not a story about a sandwich. This is a story about an Edinburgh family. But since we mentioned the sandwich, let us tell you what goes into making an original Curly Dog.
Edinburgh’s famous sandwich is a foot-long, all-beef hot dog, sliced 15 times, and when it’s fried, it curls nicely on a sesame seed bun. Then, it’s covered in homemade coney sauce, another bun in the middle, two slices of cheese, a leaf of lettuce and then topped with tartar sauce.
The Curly Dog debuted almost 70 years ago, and bringing it back today is more than just the return of a sandwich: it’s the return of a family tradition.
"I was convinced to get back to the original place where it all started," Chuck Fulford said, holding back the tears.
Like we said, the Curly Dog is more than just a sandwich to the people of Edinburgh. In fact, Chuck gets choked up with emotions just talking about it. Chuck is the son of Curly Dog inventor, Walt Fulford. Chuck was there when the Curly Dog Drive-In opened in Edinburg on May 21, 1954.
"I was a young kid, and I helped make the sauce," Fulford said.
When the Curly Dog was introduced back in 1954, it was an instant hit.
"We had them coming from everywhere," Fulford said. "I have seen cars pulled off the highway on U.S. 31 right here because of the popularity of the sandwich."
"My dad was looking into franchising it, but he had this massive stroke, and he never came back all the way," Fulford said.
So, the Curly Dog could have been a worldwide phenomenon?
"I don't know about worldwide, but there's no doubt in the United States," Fulford said.
Different versions of the Curly Dog were sold in Edinburgh for years, but none tasted exactly the same as the original from the 1950s until Chad Smock, the 33-year-old owner of Hickory Hillz BBQ, contacted Walt to request one item.
"The handwritten recipe that I've had that nobody else has had," Fulford said.
"It looked like something from the Declaration of Independence, you know, from back in the 1950s," Smock said.
"I was impressed with the young man," Fulford said of Smock. "I saw he was committed to doing it right."
But "doing it right" took five long months because the Curly Dog’s original ingredients are hard to find these days.
"They use all-beef franks and they don't make them anymore," Smock said. "It was a commercial hot dog, but they only got [them] back then. Where can I get a hot dog that tastes just like that?!"
So, when Smock finally got the seal of approval from Fulford, it was special.
"Coming from the son of the original owner of this legendary item, it was definitely a very good feeling," Smock said.
How popular is the Curly Dog now? Smock said he sold more than 700 sandwiches in the first week.
Does Fulford feel a piece of his family has been brought back?
"Yeah," Fulford said as the tears began to flow again. “My father is buried in a cemetery right over here. And I was kidding a couple of people I know, saying, 'Can you feel that little rumble?' I said, 'That's my dad over there … jumping for joy.'"
Hickory Hillz BBQ is located at 16021 U.S. 31 in Edinburgh.