GG Fletcher would love to tell you that she knew exactly where she was going when she hopped in her car 40 years ago and started making her way north along I-35 into Denton County. She and her now late husband, Skip, had been looking around for a new home, and on this particular day, GG was tired of having a realtor take the reins.
After getting off the highway, she traveled a few backroads and stumbled upon a country town called Double Oak.
“I went for a drive and ended up here,” GG said. “I accidentally found it; it was beautiful. We used to sit at the kitchen table at night and see across the pasture all the way to 407. If we saw even one car drive by, we thought it was suspicious.”
Double Oak has maintained its country vibe over the years, even with its now 3,000-plus residents. In the 1980s, though, GG and Skip were two of 836 — and they stuck out like a sore thumb.
You see, Skip was the son of Neil Fletcher Sr., who, with his brother Carl created Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs. As everyone knows, Fletcher’s makes the best corny dogs on the planet and has been a staple of the State Fair of Texas and a family tradition since 1942. Over 500,000 corny dogs are sold annually at the Fair. Julia Child, Mikhail Gorbachev, Oprah Winfrey, Dirk Nowitzki, Emmitt Smith, the Jonas Brothers, and more have all stood side-by-side with everyday folks to get their hands around the high-quality hot dog on a stick. And everyone always comes back for more.
By 1988, Skip and his brother, Bill, had taken over the family business from their late father. Skip went from being his dad’s chief taste tester to affectionately being dubbed the Corny Dog King. He and GG had four children at that time. Three are now deceased, but their daughter Becky still works at the Fair. Aaron and Amber, who came along a few years later, are just like their parents in that they have spent their lives living out a Corny Dog dynasty.
“When Aaron was an infant, he had a bed in our office at Fair Park,” GG said with a laugh. “Both kids always had fun.”
Fast forward to today, and the Fletchers and their now third-generation family business are more popular than ever. While GG and Bill are still every bit involved, Aaron, Amber, and Bill’s son W.C. run the day-to-day operations. GG and her kids still live in Double Oak. In fact, Aaron, now 35, lives in the house right next door to GG. Amber, 33, used to live in that house but now lives a few miles away in Flower Mound. And the stories of how they continue to be on everyone’s radar — including total strangers — are too many to count.
“You never hear someone say that they want to come work your job for you, but that’s exactly what all of our friends did growing up. They’d legitimately want to work the booth at the Fair; they thought it was the coolest thing,” Aaron said. “They didn’t mind being covered in batter, and I’ve got to tell you, it made me extremely popular at school during the months of September and October. I was everyone’s best friend.”
He added, “It was always a fun experience. There was and still is something incredibly special about it.”
“I’ve always felt like we have something very unique and special. It’s not something that should be taken lightly, and everyone wants to be a part of it,” she said. “Even today, I’ll go to pay my electric bill and hear, ‘Now, Fletcher. Is that the same as Fletcher’s Corny Dogs?’ I’ve been to Blissful Bark to get my dogs groomed, and the nice people there have said, ‘A couple of us want to work your booth. We want to see what it’s like.’ It’s so neat that they want that experience.”
They want that experience because Fletcher’s is a classic idea that has stood the test of time.
In 1938, Neil Sr. and Carl were winding down careers as performers at the Fair. As they plotted their next moves in life, Carl was offered the chance to run a food booth at Fair Park. According to Neil, there was a local baker on Oak Lawn Ave. who served a dish of hot dogs baked in cornmeal in the shape of an ear of corn, and while it tasted good, the process was time-consuming and complicated. The brothers tested the recipe and realized that by frying it, not only did it cut time in the cooking process but now it was a mobile food on a stick.
Their creation was not an immediate success, but it eventually took off and became the success that it is today. The secret to the famous Fletcher’s Corny Dogs isn’t just the batter. It is also in the water temperature and how the batter is mixed. And that’s all they are going to say about that.
The Fletcher’s have also continued to drive innovation to inspire fans all over the world. Besides their original corny dog, Skip introduced the Jalapeño and Cheese Corny Dog in 2004, followed by the Bird Dog in 2011. Amber was responsible for 2015’s Veggie Dog, and Aaron brought in the Cheezy Pup two years ago.
“Carrying on this business is a way for us to still be close to our father,” Amber said. “He would tell us stories about how he was 7 years old standing in the kitchen as his dad’s chief taste tester as they tried out different batters. This was special to him, and how special is it to have a legacy like that passed down to you?”
GG agreed, adding that the entire family has worked hard to protect what was created all those years ago.
“If you do the research, you find that if someone has a family business, they typically dissolve by the time they reach the third generation. So what we still have is very special,” GG said. “Everyone in the family has worked extremely hard. They were raised hearing about the history and the importance of hanging onto it and moving it forward. And it’s amazing to watch how so many adults my age see their children and grandchildren posting on social media about all the memories they have of Fletcher’s. It is unique. You just don’t hear stuff like that.”
In 2019, Fletcher’s purchased two mobile catering trailers to allow them to cater high school reunions, company picnics, private parties, and weddings and smaller festivals outside of the State Fair of Texas.
“We had requests in the past to do events outside of the Fair, but we never had the equipment to do it,” Aaron said. “We started looking around, and now we have three trailers and a neat opportunity to bring food to the people. We will always be a State Fair staple; this has made a world of difference for our business.”
When the pandemic hit, Fletcher’s was perfectly positioned to take their products to the streets and give their fans the Fletcher’s fix they were demanding. On July 7, the State Fair of Texas Board of Directors voted to cancel the Fair, which would have opened for business later this month. In response, Fletcher’s was flooded with thousands of requests to create public and private pop-ups throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The family has been working overtime to meet the incredible demand.
Fletcher’s will participate in the first-ever Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru on several weekends in September and October, where Big Tex will be waiting to greet you with his iconic, “Howdy, Folks” while you enjoy a selection of your favorite Fair foods. Tickets for the Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru are on sale at BigTex.com.
Visit fletcherscornydogs.com to see a calendar of all upcoming events and public pop-ups. While it’s not too late to bring Fletcher’s to your neighborhood or business, they are currently booked through Thanksgiving and are currently booking into spring 2021.
GG admitted she wasn’t a fan of the mobile trailer idea when her kids first came up with it, but it’s a sign of how committed this family is to keep the tradition alive.
“It helps when you have children who have dreams and aspirations,” GG said. “I’m so grateful.”
And so is everyone in Double Oak — and all around the state.