They’re rich and crisp and delicious, surprisingly sweet for a flavor so often related to being spicy and the source of tears. But something about the process of breading them in a flavorful coating and deep-frying them in a vat of oil brings out the delicious flavors hidden inside. They come in towers and flowers, giant-sized and tiny, and they’re a favorite at burger joints all over the world. That’s right, we’re talking about the onion rings, and National Onion Ring Day celebrates this delicious treat and its long history.
History of National Onion Ring Day
The origin of the onion rings is actually somewhat mysterious, but we do know that in 1802 a recipe was published in ”The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined.” This recipe describes a process of dipping ½” onion rings dipped into a rather flavorful mixture of flour with creams and cheeses and then boiling them in a vat of lard. Following on the heels of this was a suggestion to serve it with a sauce made of a mixture of mustard and butter.
Since then, there have been many refinements of the onion rings recipe, with a great debate existing on the proper method and what brings out the best flavor. There are hundreds of recipes involving different mixtures of batter to coat them in, different sauces to dip them in, and even the type of onions you use to prepare them.
As if that wasn’t complicated enough, there’s even a variety of onion rings that are made from an onion paste formed into a circle instead of an actual slice of onion. If you’ve ever enjoyed these delicious treats, then National Onion Ring Day provides you with an excuse to go to your favorite source and consume onion rings until you burst.
Onion rings aren’t just an invention of the western world. There’s also evidence that people experimented with the idea of covering strips of onion with batter and deep-frying them in developing countries too. In India, for instance, merchants would often sell fried, battered onion strips as street food – a quick snack that people could munch on the go.
As we discussed, historians have found examples of onion ring-like recipes that date back as far as 1802. With that said, there are restaurants in operation today that claim to be the originators of the idea.
Kirby’s Pig Stand – the famous historical restaurant chain – claims to have battered and served up the first official onion rings as far back as the 1920s. The restaurant’s location in Dallas, TX, was the first in the world to offer a drive-in service where people could collect food from the convenience of their vehicles.
In many ways, the outlet was the progenitor to the modern fast-food restaurant. The roof was red-tiled and pagoda-like in appearance, and the outer walls made heavy use of stucco to brighten the exterior. Over the years, the company built many more outlets, but eventually, chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell bought them up. In 2006, the company went bankrupt, and the last restaurant closed.
How to celebrate National Onion Ring Day
National Onion Ring Day is your opportunity to get out there and enjoy your favorite deep-fried savory treat. They’re simple to make at home, and while a deep fryer is great, it isn’t essential in their preparation. There are even baked Onion Rings if you decide to go that way, but nothing beats the original. Just heat up a pan of oil until a small drop of batter starts to sizzle when dropped in, and then carefully submerge your coated Onion Rings one by one and cook until a golden brown. There are dozens of recipes online that you can try, and even more recipes for sauces to serve them with.
If making onion rings isn’t your idea of fun, but you like eating them, then you can head out to any one of the dozens of restaurant chains that serves them as part of their daily menu. While many fast-food chains offer onion rings, the best examples come from independent restaurants with proprietary recipes. It’s highly likely that you have at least one of these in your area, serving up rings in the traditional style. Look for local diners with a long history and experienced management. Family businesses tend to be the best.
Some people really don’t like onions. Many won’t go near them, even if they’re covered in batter and deep-fried, but that’s okay. You don’t have to eat onion rings, though, to celebrate National Onion Ring Day – you can branch out. Remember, onion rings were the inspiration for many of the fried snacks and sides that we enjoy today. French fries, deep-fried brie, and fried chicken are all delicious alternatives that you can try if you fancy something different.
There are so many reasons to celebrate National Onion Ring Day. Onion rings are one of the most popular snacks and have become a staple in many parts of the world. They’re a bit like French fries, but taste even more special and delicious in some cases. You can dip them, dunk them, and eat them alongside all your favorite sandwiches and hamburgers. You can even lay them out at a buffet at parties. They’re so flexible!
Onion rings are also instructive for people looking for culinary inspiration. John Mollard – the man behind the 1802 recipe – was a genius. It took the world more than a hundred years to catch up to his vision of the perfect snack. Could you come up with a new recipe that is way ahead of its time?
Happy National Onion Ring Day!