HOW DID THE HUSHPUPPY GET ITS NAME?
Stories about the evolution of this fried cornmeal ball are as flavorful as the product itself. Hushpuppies are a distinctly Southern food and have often been linked to catfish.
Here are several variations of the hushpuppy story:
The oldest story has hushpuppies originating in the settlement of Nouvell Orleans (later New Orleans) shortly after 1727. They were created by Ursuline nuns who had come from France. The nuns converted cornmeal into a delicious food they named croquettes de maise. The making of these croquettes spread rapidly through the southern states.
Hushpuppies are also said to have gotten their name from the dredging of the catfish that would have been thrown out. Being thrifty, the cook from the house would send them down the slave quarters and the women added a little milk, egg and onion and fried it up. It is said they were tossed to the dogs to keep them quiet while the food was being transferred from the pot to the table. “Hush puppy! Hush puppy!”
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. They were called “hushpuppies” because eating such a lowly food was not something a Southern wife would want known to her neighbors.
Confederate soldiers would sit beside a campfire preparing their meals. If they detected Yankee soldiers approaching, they would toss their yapping dogs some of the fried cornmeal balls with the command, “Hush puppies!”
And yes, the food created the name of the famous shoe company…
In 1958, Jim Muir was having dinner with a friend in Tennessee when he witnessed how his friend’s barking hounds were quieted down when given hush puppies. Jim thought about how aching feet were commonly referred to as barking dogs. Wolverine shoes, or rather Hushpuppies, were the answer to soothing one’s aching feet. Thus a legend began.