Pronto Pups!

By Lavachickie
No, no, they aren't in Salem, but who from Salem hasn't been west on Highway 18 headed toward Lincoln City? About six miles before the coast, you pass through the tiny crossroad known as Otis: home of the Otis Cafe, a gas station with stop and shop and... Pronto Pup.

If you haven't been stopping to pick up a yummy sausage on a stick dipped in cornmeal dough at every chance... then you gotta get a new habit! It's a little yellow building tucked aside the gas station, with indoor seating via a handful of tables that are straight out of my memories of 1970, and a small outdoor eating area of wooden picnic tables on a covered deck.

You can't miss the sign... and the only connection to the south of the border fashion chosen by the mustachioed mascot is the availability of knitted hot sauce bottle clothes--I'm not kidding--which are made by a great grandmother according to the sign that hangs nearby.

Pronto Pup is a comforting childhood memory of trips to the coast for many... because they've been there since the 1940's... no joke! This year is my first with Pronto Pups, but I'll tell you it's a must-stop with every trip out to the coast. The fact that I sped on by for three years before ever stopping is truly sad! So many missed opportunities!

The location is clean... mostly. It's no frills, and the menu is actually pretty diverse... a diverse array of all things battered and fried, that is! Together my sidekick Scot and I have tried the Pronto Pup, the German sausage pup, fried pickles, mozarella sticks, beer battered fries, and our favorite... the Jalapeno Cheddar Pup! It's all been yummy. The original Pronto Pups are great in pairs, but the other sausages are huge and one will fit the bill for average appetites. Turnaround is fast so if you're eating in you can always sample one and decide if you want another.

I bet you will.

The dogs are large and moist, mildly flavored and locally made. The coating is flavorful and light, hand dipped right there in front of you and quickly fried to a crisp outside with a moist interior.

The staff is down home, nice and helpful, and aside from some kids helping at the counter the same two or three people run the show every single time we've visited.

There are seasonal and healthy options offered as well: a few weeks ago when we stopped by, they were offering fried squash; a summer squash was cut into thick sticks, battered and fried. ;-) A few fellow diners tried it while we were there, and the feedback was positive, uttered through full mouths!

You can buy a bag of the coating mix so you can make your own Pronto Pups at home, but they won't be the same, I'm sure. And every man needs one of the sexy bright yellow Pronto Pup t-shirts as well. (Yes, Scot has one.)

If if you haven't stopped, add a little tasty fun to your summer trips to the beach and grab a Pronto Pup!
And yes, you can make your own dirty little jokes about the size and shape of the pups.


jeff said...

Ah, one of those places I keep wanting to stop. Maybe since they have other things as well as hot dogs & sausage my wife won't object too strenuously....

Salem Man said...

Sold! Next time I travel through there I'm ordering a dog. I've seen that place many times, isn't there a porta potty nearby? Great review.

Queen of Tarts said...

MARYS PRONTO PUPS!!!! When I was little (from 3 years to 7) we lived in LaGrande and each summer my mother and her sister would load eight of us,packed just like sardines) into the butt ugly, but very spacious pink and white finned Desoto wagon for the yearly pilgrimage to visit the grandparents on the Oregon coast. The first of many enduring rituals (other than asking "how much longer?", "I have to go to the bathroom", and " I think Jamie's going to throw up"), was a stop at Celilo wayside park in the Columbia Gorge to eat those little boxes of cereal your mom had to cut open with a knife. That was fun because eating cereal with your cousins in your pajamas IN A FOREIGN PLACE only made things taste better. The highlight however was the approach to Marys for pronto pups. It not only meant you got to eat something really good that bore no resemblance to the inevitable peanut butter and honey sandwich you had to eat EVERYDAY, but that in scarcely more than one hour you'd be at grandmas house where it smelled like smoked salmon and salt water. To this day the smell of deep fried food will always remind me of those trips. Now we take our own kids of course.Those were the days!

Anonymous said...

Deep fried zucchini is a "healthy option?" LOL!

Lise M said...

I want to see the shirt! :)

AMY said...

Ask and you shall receive:

Scot in the fabled Pronto Pup tshirt:



My husband is such a good sport.

Chuck Bradley said...

Here's the scoop from a guy who should know. I got this story from Bud Gillette who has, for many years been a Pronto Pup vendor at the state fair. (Bud's Burgers) "Just after the end of WWII a fellow in Seaside was selling hot dogs. His buns were ruined in a rain shower. Hard pressed for a way to market his dogs, he formulated Pronto Pup batter and saved the day.” And the rest is history.

I have been a Pronto Pup junkie since around 1950 when I had my first one at the Oregon State Fair. (Now an annual tradition, incidentally.)

Also, just to set the record straight, Pronto Pup batter is quite distinct (and IMHO much better than) Corn Dog batter. Although it is a proprietary, patented and secret recipe, I think we can assume it's more pancake batter based. I would further speculate that it has little, if any corn meal in it.

One further comment: Otis does indeed sell Pronto Pups. But the quality of the hot dog they use is sadly lacking. Also, I am told a place in Seaside is selling them. I will try them at first opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I had the most disappointing Pronto Pup from Bud's Burgers at the State Fair on Wednesday. They girl who handed it to me said, "careful, it's really hot", and I thanked her for the warning. I couldn't wait though and of course bit into it anyway, to find it barely warm. It kinda spoiled how great it could have been. And it gave me a stomach ache.

As a rule I try to never eat fair food, but since I'm there every day for work, desperate times..............


Anonymous said...

A place in Seaside is selling them? Are you kidding? That's like saying it's been known to rain a bit in Oregon. The Pronto Pup joint in Seaside (next to the Tilt-a-Whirl) has been selling those for decades. A delicious treat following a round at Ten Tiny Tees mini-putt.

Anonymous said...

The pronto pups at Mary's Pronto Pups stand just outside Lincoln City, Oregon growing up were better than the ones that are sold there now. Different owners and the recipe is slightly different. They also have different types now. I just wish they sold the same plain pronto pups that used to be sold there in the 50's - 80's. They didn't have much cornmeal in them and were the way my mom used to make them. So much better than any corn dog made today and anything I have had since calling itself a corn dog or pronto pup.

Chuck Bradley said...

This thread sparked a memory.

In the early 1960's, the A&W in Stayton served an item called a "Tater Dog". It was a "footlong" (actually about 9") Hot dog on a stick deep fried in a Mashed Potato based Batter. In my memory they were delicious.

I've tried to replicate them at home a couple of times with limited success. I can't produce a batter with enough stickiness to adhere, in any quantity to the Dog.

Any suggestions? Does anyone else remember these tasty treats?