dish in Columbus, the "Scrambled Dog"
won't be the same as "Lieutenant" is to retire
By Tom Fort
Special to GwinnettForum.com
(Editor's Note: A Columbus institution gets
a fond remembrance from a Columbus native. We think you will like
MAY 28, 2002 -- You may think of Columbus, Georgia as where you
go on the way to Panama City. Others may think of the home of the
insurance company with the
duck, AFLAC, banking giant Synovus, Fort Benning and its Infantry
School, or the Confederate Naval Museum.
Columbus has one other thing that makes it unique.
Calling a "Scrambled Dog" a "Chili Dog" just
doesn't do it justice. "Scrambled Dogs" are to chilidogs
as a fresh open-faced, gravy-smothered home-made roast beef sandwich
is to fast-food roast beef on a bun.
Served in long bowls akin to banana split bowls, the dog and bun
are cut up and covered with a generous amount of chili----yet a
While you may be able to find restaurants with their version of
"scrambled dogs" scattered around the southeast, the original
is found at Dinglewood Pharmacy on Wynnton Road in Columbus.
Toppings usually include mustard, ketchup, thinly diced onions,
pickles and oyster crackers. It must be eaten with a fork or spoon,
since it's far too much chili on it to try to pick it up. Some folks
like cole slaw as a topping.
Aficionados say it's the chili that makes the difference.
Lieutenant Stevens has worked at the pharmacy lunch counter for
more than 40 years. ("Lieutenant" is actually Stevens'
given name, not a military rank.) Contrary to popular opinion, the
"Scrambled Dog" was not invented by him.
The legend is that credit goes to Firm Roberts, who ran a cafe
in Columbus and may have served the dish for just six months or
so. Stevens learned to make the earlier version of "Scrambled
Dogs"---and then simply perfected them.
The dish is almost a way of life in Columbus. Waits of 30-minutes
to get served are common at the pharmacy, just across the road from
the AFLAC headquarters tower. Even AFLAC CEO Dan Amos eats them.
The chili was flown to the White House during the Carter presidency.
Carmike Cinemas, in its "Hollywood Connection" indoor
amusement park chain, has a diner known as Lieutenant's, where their
"Scrambled Dog" is the featured menu item.
After satisfying your craving for a "Scrambled Dog,"
you can browse the pharmacy for memorabilia and souvenirs----T-shirts,
postcards, and coffee mugs with Lieutenant's likeness.
I probably have had as many "Scrambled Dogs" at the Greater
Columbus Fair as I've had at Dinglewood's lunch counter. Most times,
Sarge would be the one working the booth at the fair. It was strange
seeing him behind a counter with an apron on his waist, and getting
served by him just like anybody else.
Now, after serving countless "Scrambled Dogs," Lieutenant
Stevens is retiring. In honor of his retirement, Sunday, June 9,
is designated "Lieutenant Appreciation Day" at Dinglewood
Pharmacy, with a party from 2 to 5 p.m. At 4:30, he will be presented
with a bank account to help him enjoy his retirement along with
a list of contributors to the fund.
The day's organizers also are looking for personal recollections
for a "memory book" in which photos and personal messages
to Lieutenant will be pasted. Donations and memory books contributions
may be mailed to Friends of Lieutenant, PMB 104, 2525 Auburn Avenue,
Columbus, Ga. 31906.
Lieutenant's secret chili recipe will continue to be used in the
making of the famous dish, but somehow, for most of us, it just
won't be the same without the man himself.
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