Inside the Happiest Place on Earth, there exists the "Smallest Place on Earth to Work": the Little Red Wagon at the end of Main Street, U.S.A..
There, in a parked truck, inside a compartment the size of a janitor's broom closet, two Disney Cast Members toil in what I imagine is the worst job at Disneyland. But the problem isn't just the cramped quarters; it's the sputtering deep fryer crammed in there with 'em.
In August, when the mercury can easily climb past ninety in Anaheim, the closest thing to hell I can think of would be an eight-hour shift hunched over a smelly vat of boiling grease inside a sweltering sweat box made of metal. Whatever type of cooling or exhaust system they are provided can't be enough.
All this in the name of cooking hundreds of hand-dipped wieners for tourists in floppy Goofy hats.
In the first two summers after high school, I passed by the Little Red Wagon every morning to walk to a relatively cushier job as a cashier in the Adventureland gift shops. And before I would spend my workday in an air-conditioned store, I used to say a little prayer for my comrades who were stuck with corn dog duty.
Even today, as an Annual Passport holder, I still feel the prickly pangs of pity when I line up to order a corn dog, knowing that those sorry souls suffered to make my lunch.
But despite it, the products of their labor is recognized by many as the best thing to eat in the park. In fact, it is my opinion that these corn dogs are probably the only decent meal to be had within the confines of the Magic Kingdom. But at $5.80 for a corn dog and a small bag of Lay's chips (and an additional $2.90 for a fountain drink), one pays a premium for the pleasure, just like all other things sold inside the resort.
The corn dogs, however, are colossal, as long as my forearm and just as thick. Deep fried to a dark mahogany brown, it's as greasy as they come. A napkin I wrapped around its base for gripping turned clear on contact. Enough oil leeched out of its pores to lube up a bodybuilder, but the corn dog was scrumptious and filling enough to also feed one.
A good and generous slathering of plain yellow mustard cuts through the richness of the juicy beef frank found at its core; but it's the fried and porous cornbread crust that I savor most. Thanks to the pull of gravity, almost all of the corn dogs produced are inherently lopsided, but it seems that the more asymmetrical the shell, the better the experience. Best of all is when the batter tears halfway through cooking, creating gnarled knobs of goodness reminiscent of crackly hush puppies.
So, the next time you order a corn dog from the Little Red Wagon, do those working there a favor if they're looking down-and-out: tell them thanks.
Little Red Wagon
1313 S Harbor Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92802
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