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Corn Dogs: Budget lunch on a stick

BY AUSTIN ANTRICAN

“These are the best corn dogs in Salem!”

That’s probably a phrase you’ve heard at some point in your time at Chemeketa.

But the bold statement raises a simple question: Are they really the best?

And that, in turn, raises a second question: Are they the best for you?

First things first, however – and the first thing to consider in this case is value.

Tim Bucknell, Chemeketa’s Food Services manager, said, “If you only have $1.75, the corn dog is going to be the best option for you – that or a side salad for $1.50”

Matthew Valdivia, a first-year student, said he gets food from the Food Court a few times a week.

“Yeah, the corn dogs are OK, but I usually go for the pizza. It tastes better. It may be more expensive, but it is usually fresher,” he said while pulling napkin after napkin from the dispenser as he got ready for lunch.

Valdivia said he was not surprised that the corn dogs and small salad were the least expensive meal options at the college.

“When I only have a couple bucks and my friends won’t cough up anything, I usually just go for a candy bar or chips,” he said, preparing to attack his cheese-and-sausage slice of pizza.
According to Bucknell, prices are always a balancing act, with the college attempting to provide a good value for the money. He also said options at the Food Court are far better than they were in the past.

“A lot of changes have been made since a couple years ago, and soon this summer we are revamping the Food Court” again, he said while organizing new environmentally friendly containers that are part of the pending new additions.

Vadivia, for one, was interested in upgrades to the college’s food services operation.

“I’m excited for the new changes. I even heard about the addition of a noodle bar. I love Chinese food,” he said.

The changes and remodeling might well mark the end of the ubiquitous corn dog at the Food Court, however.

“Corn dogs are already offered at the Convenience Store around the corner from the Food Court,” Bucknell said. “Why be redundant in food offered?”

With most of the Food Court heading in the direction of green and natural, it’s no surprise that the corn dogs might fall out of the rotation.

Another factor is value deals vs. individual items.

“Students love the deals. They are almost all centered around $5: $5 pizza deals, $5 burger deals, and $5 sandwich deals,” Bucknell said.

The items that are offered in the Food Court are generally chosen by what works with the culture, Bucknell said.

Corn dogs are chosen because they are inexpensive enough that students will buy them for a quick snack.

What goes into a Chemeketa corn dog?

According to Bucknell, they are pre-made by Foster Farms and are cooked just before being placed under the heat lamp. “The reason that Foster Farms corn dogs are offered is because they are all natural,” Bucknell said. “We try to offer the best option without going overboard with gourmet food.”

Natural food items sit well with Chemeketa students.

Valdivia said he was glad to know that the college’s choice of food items was influenced by the quality of the ingredients. He said that he would be more likely to get a corn dogs than, say, a chocolate bar when he needed something that was quick and inexpensive.

The corn dogs are about as filling as a basket of fries at Chemeketa, and for less money.
So are Chemeketa’s corn dogs really the best in town?

It depends on your point of view, though it’s certainly a better value than the $25 you’ll pay if you visit the Arizona Diamondbacks this year and order up a D-bat corn dog: 18 inches, sstuffed with cheese and bacon, fries on the side.

But Chemeketa’s corn dogs are certainly convenient – the best corn dogs that are served in and around 4000 Lancaster Drive NE.

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