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Q: The origin of a 'food' word ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: The origin of a 'food' word
Category: Family and Home > Food and Cooking
Asked by: tanstafaal-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 02 Apr 2006 14:09 PDT
Expires: 02 May 2006 14:09 PDT
Question ID: 714703
I would like to know where the origin comes from for the word 'hush-puppies'.
The Southern fried-corn-bread-like food served typically with fried fish. Thank you.
Subject: Re: The origin of a 'food' word
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 02 Apr 2006 15:18 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Ttanstafaal,

Food historians don?t agree on the exact origin of the term "hush
puppies", however the general consensus is that the name does have
something to do with keeping dogs quiet in the Southern part of the
United States.

From The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink:
?The term appears in print for the the first time about 1915. Although
unconfirmed, the common assumption regarding the hush puppy's origin
is that it dates from the period of scarcity following the Civil War,
when cooks would toss scraps of corn batter to hungry dogs with the
words "Hush Puppies!" But the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase
Origins cites a Southern reader's account that in the South the
aquatic reptile called the salamander was often known as a "water dog"
or "water puppy"...These were deep-fried with cornmeal dough and
formed into sticks, and, so the accout goes, they were called "hush
puppies" because eating such lowly food was not something a southern
wife would want known to her neighbors."
The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, John F. Mariani
[Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 161).

From The Oxford Companion to Food:
"Hush Puppy ? Its origins are obscure, but it seems to have originated
in Florida before 1920. According to legend it was devised by hunters,
who would throw an occasional fritter to their hunting dogs to keep
them quiet. However, public outdoor fish frying sessions were common
in Florida, and it is plausible to suppose that the hush puppy came
into being at these, whiter or not it owes its name to the ability to
quiet hungry dogs."
--- The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University
Press:Oxford] 1999(p. 390-391)

From Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes:
"Hush puppies seem to have originated in the day-long hunting and
fishing expeditions popular among Southern men a few generations ago.
Cooking their catch over an open fire was part of their enjoyment of
the a side dish they fried little cornmeal cakes in the pan
they had used for the fish, and when the meal was over the leftovers
went to the tied-up, yelping dogs, presumable with the cry "Hush,
puppies." The name first appears in print in 1918, but probably was
used much earlier."
---Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, Patricia Bunning
Stevens [Ohio University Press: Athens] 1998 (p. 139).

From the American Heritage Cookbook:
"Hush puppies--golden-brown puffs invented to shush up the barking
puppies at an outdoor feast; made by putting corn-bread batter into
deep fat."
---American Heritage Cookbook, American Heritage [American Heritage:
New York] 1964 (p. 128)

From  Willamette Week:  "The origin of hush puppies sounds like an
urban legend, but the same explanation pops up again and again in
cookbooks, as well as in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Back in
the day, the dudes who were gathered around the campfire for a fish
fry would take the cornmeal leftover from preparing catfish, fry it up
in little balls and toss 'em to the dogs to silence their whining. Get
it? Hush, puppies."
---Willamette Week 

Source: The Food Timeline

The Food Timeline was created by Lynne Olver, reference librarian and
IACP member, in response to students, parents and teachers who
frequently asked for help locating food history and period recipes at
the Morris County Library (Whippany, NJ).


From A Soul Food History: 

 "It is said that the hushpuppy got its name from the dredging of the
catfish that would have been thrown out. Being thrifty, the cook from
the house would send this down to the slave quarters and the women
added a little milk, egg and onion and fried it up. It is said they
were tossed at the dogs to keep them quiet while the food was being
transferred from the pot to the table, i.e., "hush puppy! hush puppy!"


From the Word Detective:

?There are a number of stories told about the origin of corn meal
"hush puppies," a term which first appeared in print around 1913.?

?The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, reported the belief
of one correspondent that the original "hush puppies" were actually
salamanders (known colloquially as "water puppies"), rolled in corn
meal, fried, and consumed during the desperate days of Reconstruction
in the South. Since salamanders were not really considered edible, and
no family wanted it to be known that they had fallen on such hard
times, the children were warned to "hush" (be quiet) and not mention
their dinner to neighbors. Voila, "hush puppies."

?While this story is certainly colorful, it strikes me as both
unlikely and unnecessary. The "Shut up, dawg" explanation seems most
likely, with the addendum that "hush puppies" were (and still are)
commonly cooked as a side dish for humans in the South, so their use
as canine tranquilizers was almost certainly a spur-of-the-moment

Word Detective : Issue of January 14, 2005


From World Wide Words:

?People cooking outdoors would fry up these little cakey bits along
with their other food as a side delicacy and would feed a few to the
dogs to keep them quiet while the humans were eating (Hence ?Hush,
puppies!? as another way of saying ?Quiet, dogs!?). Whether this
happened at a barbecue or a hunters? camp depends on who is telling
the story.?

World Wide Words


Search criteria:
'hush-puppies' origin 
Hush Puppy origin 

I hope the information provided is helpful!

Best regards,
tanstafaal-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Am extremely pleased with your answer.

Subject: Re: The origin of a 'food' word
From: myoarin-ga on 02 Apr 2006 15:57 PDT
My experience does not go back to the earliest dates mentioned, but
when I was growing up in the Deep South, hush-puppies were made from
the leftover batter from frying fish  - no salamanders or catfish
Total agreement with the Willamette Week.

Soul Food History is right that catfish were distained in "better
folks'" homes, until well after WW II:  "colored folks' food".  They
wouldn't have wasted the catfish to feed the dogs, and didn't in my

Although hush-puppies were not just fed to the dogs, they were always
a means of using the leftover batter.
Subject: Re: The origin of a 'food' word
From: bobbie7-ga on 26 Apr 2006 08:57 PDT
Thank you very much for the nice rating and tip!

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