The fascinating history of Fannie Farkle’s plus what to order from a local
I’ve eaten in some fine places in my time. But perhaps my favorite meal would be served by a carnie at a county fair. I suspect there’s a certain level of nostalgia in my love of carnival food. There’s something about sausages, cheesesteaks and corndogs. It’s all ridiculously unhealthy and also ridiculously good. I always thought it a little strange that Fannie Farkle’s Family Fun Parlor in Gatlinburg did such a good job of getting the taste of carnival life just right. But now, I understand their secret to success.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Subscribe to our newsletter for area news, coupons and discounts
Fannie Farkles in the 1980s
Fannie Farkle’s in Gatlinburg, TN has operated for more than 40 years as an arcade and eatery – taking my favorite things about carnival life and putting them in one easily accessible location. That simple concept is likely the reason for its many years of success. Fannie Farkle’s originally opened in 1981. It is the result of the blood, sweat and tears of a former burlesque dancer. Former owner Marion Paul had met her husband when she was working on a chorus line with a carnival.
While looking for a career that had a better shelf life than burlesque, she learned that the location for what would become Fannie Farkle’s was open for lease. Marion got off the road and threw herself into the business. Don stayed on the road – often in stretches that lasted a week and a half to two weeks. Certainly, it wasn’t easy in the early years. Marion worked 15-hour days to keep the business going but, she said, she was in the right spot.
“We had hundreds of games under tents, so I left that environment and came and made Fannie Farkle’s a permanent location, I’ve just always wanted to have a business that appealed to everybody, and I think I’ve succeeded here at Fannie Farkle’s … Gatlinburg was the best town for me because there were many female entrepreneurs”– Marion from a promotional article for Rick Laney Marketing.
Fannie Farkle’s today
After 40 years in business, Fannie Farkle’s was put under new management. In November of 2021, Marion announced she had sold Farkle’s to a pair of brothers from West Virginia, Jim and Matt Knowles. But even though it’s under new management, Fannie Farkle’s is still serving up legendary Ogle Dogs and a fun atmosphere.
Today, the eatery is more of a quick-service location. There’s no seating. But there is a full arcade, which offers all the latest and best arcade games in the area. Kids of all ages can spend hours in the game room.
My review of Fannie Farkle’s
Honestly, the arcade is great and fun, but it’s not that different from other arcades in the area. The prizes at the redemption center – if you have the patience to save up your points and visit frequently – are considerably better, for the most part. However, they’re not just giving those Playstations and big-screen TVs away.
But the famous Ogle Dog is my favorite part of Fannie Farkle’s. It’s a special recipe foot-long corn dog honoring one of the area’s oldest families. You can watch them make it from start to finish. But generally, my basic position on dogs of any sort is I want no part of watching them make it. Sure, the worst is over long before you get to dip the dog in the batter. However, all I’m interested in is the final product. The last time I purchased one, the price was a little over $8. But as always, prices are subject to change.
Farkle’s also offers cheesesteaks and delicious sausage subs with peppers and onions. It’s not an elegant meal, but it is so good. Farkle’s also offers homebrewed sweet tea, fresh lemonade and Hawaiian shaved ice. It’s 100 percent carnival authentic. So if you’re going to go, I’d say its safe to skip the arcade, but don’t skip out on the food.
Fannie Farkles coupons and discounts
On their website, you can currently print a 50% off coupon for a regular-size fountain drink in a souvenir cup with the purchase of a sausage sub, cheesecake or dipped Ogle Dog. Also, they offer a free drink with food purchase if you also present an active military ID. Learn more about the current offers here.
At the time of this writing, Fannie Farkle’s closes at 9 pm most evenings and 10 pm on Saturday nights. However, hours are subject to change by season. Fannie Farkle’s is located at 656 Parkway in Gatlinburg.
Have you visited Fannie Farkle’s in the Smokies? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.