Terry Hurley has owned Dinglewood Pharmacy on Wynnton Road for just over 40 years, with the pharmacist estimating his establishment’s soda fountain today sells about 600 red wieners a week for its star culinary attraction — a scrambled dog adorned with chili, mustard, ketchup, onions and other toppings.
The Columbus business is already well known in Columbus circles. But it is getting a little extra attention through a new Georgia guide that focuses on great places to eat across the state.
Dinglewood’s scrambled dog is among a list of “100 Plates Locals Love” in the second summer 2016 edition of Georgia Eats, a guide to the eclectic foods and eateries across the Peach State. The publication and online site is put together by the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division.
“You tell them what you want on it. It comes basically with a toasted bun, a wienie, the chili and oyster crackers ... and it’s still served at the table on china,” Hurley said Wednesday of the scrambled dog, which he dates locally to 1946 at a diner on Cusseta Road, with cooks Lieutenant Stevens and Sport Brown later adopting the dish and serving it to area residents at Dinglewood for many years.
The Georgia tourism agency said the “plates” served up in the guide were culled from nearly 600 nominations submitted via ExploreGeorgia.org, with a panel of judges choosing which eateries and their signature dishes made the grade.
“Georgia’s cities, towns and back roads are filled with authentic restaurants and culinary specialties that visitors love to experience when they travel,” said Kevin Langston, the state’s deputy commissioner of tourism.
Being included in the guide is guaranteed to garner exposure, considering it is distributed at a dozen state visitor centers and at information centers in various communities across Georgia, as well as in some hotel lobbies and via the ExploreGeorgia website. The guide also offers flavor tours, feature articles and recipes.
Peter Bowden, president and chief executive officer of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, opined that there’s “nothing better” than a scrambled dog “all the way” with a side of potato chips or onion rings and a Cherry Coke.
“The local food scene is making Columbus a true destination ... from a meat-and-three place to a five-star offering,” he said.
For the uninitiated, a scrambled dog is a thin hot dog typically cut into pieces on a dish, then smothered with slow-cooked chili and — depending on your personal taste — topped with pickles, oyster crackers and coleslaw. Some folks enjoy a little mustard and onions, while others might try a bit of relish or cheese. Hurley said the eatery recently began offering jalapeno slices and a dollop of sour cream on top of its dog, which he joked “will make you slap your mama. Sour cream’s really good on it.”
The owner of Dinglewood, which was founded in 1918, said the soda fountain and its scrambled dog dish attracts a cross-section of local people, from blue-collar workers to business people working at places such as Aflac and Synovus. An attempt at one point to use an all-beef frankfurter was met with fierce resistance, so Hurley quickly did an about-face and brought back the red wienies, which are special ordered.
“We’ve catered weddings in Saudi Arabia and Florence, Italy. When I say catered, we sent our stuff over there. And when President Carter was in office we sent chili to the White House on a couple of occasions,” said Hurley, mentioning that former Georgia Gov. Busbee’s wife, Mary Beth, used to send highway patrol officers to Dinglewood frequently to pick up a gallon of chili and wieners to take back to the governor’s mansion.
He also recalls a visit to Georgia by Great Britain’s Prince Charles in the mid-1970s, with the royal visitor being served a scrambled dog on a sterling silver plate. And when former First Lady Laura Bush spoke at the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum a few years ago, she stopped by Dinglewood with her Secret Service guys.
“She had a Blue Bell milkshake, but all of the Secret Service guys had scrambled dogs,” Hurley said.
The “100 Plates Locals Love” breaks down the dishes and restaurants that serve them into regions. There’s Atlanta Metro, Classic South, The Coast, Historic Heartland, Historic High Country, Magnolia Midlands, Northeast Georgia Mountains, Plantation Trace and Presidential Pathways.
Columbus and Dinglewood Pharmacy fall into Presidential Pathways, with other dishes being recognized in the area including fried lobster tail at Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse in Hamilton, braised beef ribs at 153 Main Bistro in Pine Mountain and the chicken salad plate at Sweet Georgia Baking Co. in Americus.
The “Flavor Tours” portion of the guide includes Mabella’s Italian Steakhouse in Columbus, 11th and Bay in Columbus, Whistling Pig Cafe in Pine Mountain, Four Winds Restaurant in Cusseta, Annie D’s in Buena Vista, The Bulloch House Restaurant in Warm Springs, Richland Rum in Richland, Cafe Campesino in Americus and River Bend’s Winery and Vineyard in West Point.
For those who missed the 2015 guide, included in the roundup of “100 Plates Locals Love” were the mac and cheese at Minnie’s Uptown in Columbus, the Ranger Burger at Four Winds in Cusseta, the classic hot dog at Charlie Joseph’s in LaGrange, meatloaf at Yoder’s Deitsch in Montezuma, high tea at Rose Cottage Cafe in Pine Mountain, and the fried chicken at Annie D’s in Buena Vista.
Here are the top Columbus restaurants, according to opinions of foodies visiting the online site TripAdvisor.