History of Hushpuppies

 In Appetizers, Food & Dining


The hushpuppy machine at Millers Seafood and Steakhouse


The Story Behind Hushpuppies

If you’re eating fried seafood, chances are it will be accompanied by tasty golden brown nuggets known as hushpuppies. They are made into balls or fingers from thick cornmeal batter, then dropped into a deep fryer and cooked till crisp, but stay soft and chewy in the middle. Hushpuppies can be found everywhere from town to town at many of the Outer Banks Restaurants. Hushpuppies are deliciously famous, but where in the world did they come from? What is the history behind the hushpuppy? Here are some versions of the story of how hushpuppies found their name.

French Nuns

The oldest hushpuppy story in which the recipe was first originated begins with them saying that it took the French to teach Southerners how to fry cornmeal batter. In the 1720s, French Ursuline nuns arrived in New Orleans and adopted cornmeal from local Native Americans and made hand-shaped patties that they called croquettes de maise or corn croquettes. The recipe then began to spread all across the South.

Hush That Dog Up

The most common myth is that when fishermen would be cooking their catch of the day, their dogs would waiting next to them begging for a bite. The cooks would fry bits of dough and throw it to the pups to hush them up.

The Civil War

Another folktale of the origin of hushpuppies comes from the South during the Civil War when Confederate soldiers would be sitting around a campfire preparing their meals. After suddenly hearing the Yankee soldiers approaching, they would toss their barking dogs some fried cornmeal cakes ordering them to “hush, puppies!”

Red Horse Bread

The southerners were enjoying Red Horse Bread for at least two decades before “hushpuppy” appeared. It wasn’t red in color and had nothing to do with horses at all. It was one of the common species of fish (along with bream, catfish, and trout) that were caught in South Carolina and served at fish fries. Globs of cornmeal were fried in the same grease as the Red Horse fish.

If one thing is for sure, it’s that Southerners know the perfect way to cook up fried food and a good story. While we’re on the topic of good southern comfort food, here are some Outer Banks Restaurants that offer those tasty fried cornmeal dough balls we today still call hushpuppies. The restaurants are listed from north to south.

High Cotton BBQ
High Cotton Barbeque

High Cotton Barbeque is loved by locals and has become one of the “must visit” establishments for any Outer Banks vacation. High Cotton BBQ is available for carry-out. It easy to pick up lunch for the beach or dinner on the go to your cottage.

Jimmy's Seafood Buffet
Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet

Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet provides flavors from all over the world with an emphasis on a Caribbean twist added to the usual seafood fare. They purchase as much local fish and shellfish as possible, and then we obviously get crab legs from all over: Florida to Alaska and back to North Carolina. Jimmy is a fun place for the entire family.

Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar
Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar

Awful Arthur’s isn’t just about oysters, there’s also a wide selection of crab legs and clams from the steamer, fried seafood, or steaks, chicken, pasta and salads to choose from that keep people coming back year after year.

Captain George's Seafood Restaurant
Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant

Every member of your party will enjoy an ultimate seafood experience at Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant with over 70 mouth-watering items to choose from. Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant is a proud member of Outer Banks Catch, serving fresh, local seafood. Open 7 days a week, year round. Located at MP 8.5 on the bypass.

Pigman's BBQ Menu
Pigman’s BBQ

Pigman’s has been serving up Pork, Chicken, Beef, Turkey and Tuna BBQ for the masses on the Outer Banks for 32 years! Customers can expect to fill up the rest of their plate with Pigman’s classic southern fixings and sides like hushpuppies, fries, cornbread, potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw!

Miller's Seafood and Steakhouse
Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse

Along with its scrumptious cuisine, Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse offers a warm friendly atmosphere coupled with genuine Outer Banks hospitality. Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse is more than just a great restaurant. It’s a tradition among Kill Devil Hills restaurants and the Outer Banks.

Dirty Dick's Crab House
Dirty Dick’s Crab House

A funny name and a great business! Dirty Dick’s has a menu full of fresh, local seafood with a New Orleans accent. Bring your group, bring your family for a fun time and great food at Dirty Dick’s! Locations in Nags Head and Avon.

millers waterfront restaurant
Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant

Located on the beautiful Roanoke Sound, the view is always breathtaking. The Waterfront Sunset Bar & Grill is the newest addition to the Miller’s experience. Located upstairs, the Sunset Bar & Grill features delicious cocktails, a wide selection of craft beers, a full menu of creative casual fare, and the best views in Nags Head.

Sugar Creek Seafood Restaurant Logo
Sugar Creek Restaurant

Experience the best sound front dining the Outer Banks has to offer! Sugar Creek sits on a prime sunset location with plenty of water view seating. The Chef prides himself in purchasing the highest quality local seafood while having it prepared in the traditional Outer Banks style.

owens restaurant
Owens’ Restaurant

Family owned and operated. The Owens family invites you to visit them in Nags Head for some of the best Southern coastal cuisine the Outer Banks has to offer. Everything that can be sourced locally is done so, and the food is prepared simply and respectfully – something that can be felt with every bite.

So there you have it! Now you know how those fried delicious pieces of cornmeal got their name. Hushpuppies can either be served as an appetizer with a side of homemade honey butter. Or can be served as a side accompanied with fried seafood. Try some at one of your local Outer Banks Restaurants.

Visit the Restaurant Guide to the Outer Banks

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