When I was in West Virginia last weekend, we had lunch at a place that can be best described as a hot dog joint. You drive up, some zitster comes right out to your car window and takes your order, and within a shockingly abbreviated amount of time he’s back with a bulging sack o’ dogs.
Unfortunately, they weren’t very good. Not horrible, mind you, just nothing spectacular. But… it was a treat to be able to let my guard down and order the things like I really wanted them: with chili and slaw.
I think I was in my early teens when I realized that slaw served on a hot dog is unusual outside of my home state. I remember we were in Florida on vacation, and there was a sign outside a restaurant that read WEST VIRGINIA STYLE HOT DOGS. All of us were baffled, so we did a big Streets of San Francisco u-turn and went back to investigate. Yeah, they just served ’em with slaw… I was completely confused. Isn’t that universal??
Of course, now I know better. If I were to order a hot dog with cole slaw in northeastern Pennsylvania, they’d look at me like I’d surely wandered away from my handlers. So, I generally just go with yellow mustard. Sometimes, if it’s available, I’ll opt for chili. But I don’t generally trust it outside of West Virginia. Most of the time it’s mustard, or mustard and onion.
When I was a kid there was a big-time debate in Dunbar, on the level of Beatles vs. Stones, about who had the best hot dogs in town: the bowling alley or the Dairy Queen. You were expected, for the sake of sport I suppose, to choose a side. But I loved them both. The buns were always steamed, the chili and slaw was always perfect… It was a good day indeed, whenever somebody did a bowling alley or Dairy Queen run. I always told people I was a bowling alley man, because society insisted you pick one or the other, but I was secretly happy with either.
One thing that triggers a personal squint of disapproval: grown adults who eat hot dogs with nothing but ketchup. Or even catsup, for that matter. It’s a kiddie kondiment, right? Also, I’ve never been able to fully endorse relish. It feels like something from the 1800s, and is pickle-based. I can eat it, but it’s far down the list of preferences.
I’ve had those big Chicago-style hot dogs, with freaking tomatoes, a pickle spear, etc. Again, it’s fine for the novelty of it. And I like the gigantor Sam’s Club or Costco dogs, and even the new Burger King grilled hot dogs. But the best will always be the ones served at the Dunbar Bowling Alley/Dairy Queen, during the 1970s. For the last forty years I’ve been chasing the wiener-shaped dragon, I’m not kidding.
What about you? What are your thoughts on hot dogs? Do you have opinions? It seems like everybody does. Use the comments section to bring us up to date on it.
And I had a whole list of things to write about today, but sometimes these updates get away from me. There’s always next time, right? One thing I will mention: yesterday was my one-year no-alcohol anniversary. It’s amazing, really. But the thing about it? I don’t really feel that much better or worse without beer in my life. I was hoping for a big dramatic change. But I’m still fat, my book isn’t being written any faster, and I continue to walk around with a perma-scowl. Oh well. I’m saving money, I guess. And by “saving,” I mean buying CDs from Amazon, instead of suitcases full of Yuengling Lager.
Also, a couple of amazing things from the weekend… Check it out, the public service announcement I’ve been trying to find for 20 years. I must have seen it 5000 times between the ages of 10 and 13. A major find! Also, take a look at this! The price is too high, but the fact that it’s finally being released makes me happy. A must-have. One of the best, underappreciated comedies ever.
I’ll see you guys again on Thursday.
Have a great day!
Now playing in the bunker
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Mustard and onions. Chili every great once in a while.
Joe T. says
I like them with anything other than ketchup. I really like the Coney Island dogs in Scranton.
Lew in Bama says
There are only 2 acceptable ways to eat a hot dog; either burnt to a crisp on the grill, or at some sort of festival/sporting event.
Corndogs are also part of the festival/sports only group.
As far as condiments, either chili and cheese, or mustard only. Occasionally its fun to throw on some burger fixins (pickles, tomato, cheese, etc), but only when said dog isn’t grilled to an acceptable level of black and charred.
No kraut or slaw for me.
Mayo, tomatos, and onions. Learned that from Paw who was from Nor-Cal. One should also try Corn tortilla wrapped hotdog. Aka: Mexican Corn Dog. Learned that one whem I had the munchies.
From Pennsylvania, first experienced slaw dogs in WV, they were amazing. Try to recreate them at home, but they are never as good.
I’m a bowling alley guy, maybe just because it was around longer than the DQ.
Ketchup and relish have no place on a WV hot dog.
The other Dunbar delicacy I liked was those barbecues that came in the plastic container from Tom’s Supermarket.
Hot dogs with mustard, maybe chili if I trust the cook/joint.
I’m waiting for “Then Came Bronson” to come out. The pilot, in its “European theatrical version,” is available, but I want the series.
Mustard for sure. Onion if it’s available, on the fence on relish, it’s okay every once in awhile.
Never ketchup once you turn 10 years old, time to man up or woman up. I ridicule my golf partner every Sunday at the turn about putting ketchup on his hotdog, so far he’s not budging.
As for chili, the flavors go together it’s just a fucking mess.
I’ve never had slaw on a sandwich. Is a hotdog a sandwich?
BTW, I believe the hotdog is a sandwich but I would mock you if you ordered a “hotdog sandwich”.
Joey Jo Jo says
I believe you get your ass kicked ordering a hotdog sandwich
I grew up in the South Carolina upstate. The best hot dogs were found in beer joints when I was a kid and chili making was a competition. The beer joint rivalry sounds about like your DQ vs Bowling alley.
In more modern times the biggest rivalry was “Boots & Sonny’s” vs. Ricky’s. These are family members who split up for some reason. Both are good however, I prefer Boot’s slightly.
In SC the basic hot dog is mustard, chili, and onions. BUT we are also known for our “slaw dogs” which is the basic hot dog with the addition of a dollop of nice spicy chili (no beans!!). I love that combo with a dash of Texas Pete hot sauce on top! Look out porcelain!
No votes for the traditional New York way? A natural-casing hot dog with spicy-brown mustard and sauerkraut. Ideally, grilled with a grilled or toasted bun.
Being a Northern Ohio Resident, I have to put Ballpark Mustard on the hot dog when I’m at the Jake (Yes, it is still the Jake, no matter what the whackjobs have named it this year) but if I’m in the southern half of Ohio, I’ll go full WV with slaw, onions and yellow mustard. Sometimes a good coney works for me, or the ultimate in messes, a coney WITH slaw, mustard and onions. NEVER KETCHUP though. NOT EVEN ONCE.
It’s sauce – not chili.
this guy hotdogs
Root 66 says
I prefer hot dog sauce (we’ve also used Manwich in a pinch) with shredded cheese and yellow mustard. Stadium mustard is also acceptable. I do have relatives however, that prefer to put (WARNING: graphic content to follow) MAYONNAISE on their hot dogs! I’m dry-heaving right now as I am typing this! How anyone could eat that baffles the imagination.
Perhaps that Green Acres DVD set would be a worthy purchase to celebrate your one-year prohibition anniversary!
Hot dog fixings are most definitely driven by regional preference. See: http://www.hollyeats.com/HotDogPage.htm.
New York system weiners at Olneyville NYS restaurant outside of Providence RI are a personal favorite…grilled dog, soft bun, brown mustard, chili and chopped onions.
Tofu dogs are an abomination regardless of topping…ketchup, mayo, siracha or miracle whip might actually help by killing the taste but you’d still have to deal with the cadaverous “been floating in the river for a long time” texture.
Ferd Berfle says
It is funny how different regions have different variations on how to prepare a hot dog. I’m from Chicago, and dogs there have a particular construction. Start out with a steamed poppy seed bun. The hot dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges, sport peppers and celery salt. Some folks say the complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be “dragged through the garden” due to the many toppings, but I lived there for 20 years and never heard anyone say that.
And most importantly – NO KETCHUP on a true Chicago dog. In fact, some hot dog joints won’t serve it.
I’ve since learned that very few people outside Illinois like their hot dogs prepared this way.
LOL on the Green Acres thing – agreed, a timeless classic.
And I like that public service announcement. For me, I’ve been searching for years for the old 60’s era ‘stick figure’ animated PSA about ‘aliens’ having to register at their local post office. As a young kid in the 60’s, I was always afraid to go to the post office, because I thought the only aliens were from outer space. In spite of the fact that it was on nearly every dam day when I was a kid, for some reason most people of my age can’t even remember that one.
I’m ok with most anything on a good hot dog, but my favorite is cheese, red onions and miracle whip with yellow mustard. Mayonnaise is a horrible condiment and reminds me of plain lard.
Boar’s Head hotdogs, mustard, ketchup, grilled onions, sport peppers. I know that’s a combination that is a hanging offense in some parts, but that’s what *I* like.
Mustard, onions, sometimes sauerkraut..and chili. Best chili sauce when I was growing up was in a real rat hole in Glens Falls NY, called Dirty Johns..man, that sauce was greasy beef heaven. Never ever with the evil ketchup! Ugh!
If, like me, you had some Sabrett hotdogs in the fridge, there is a recall on them. That is the end of this public service announcement.
Fred Dagg says
When I was at University in New Zealand during the 80’s the Student cafe had a hot dog with coleslaw called a Kiwi roll. You could put mustard and ketchup (what we call tomato sauce) on it if you liked.
Perhaps someone from West Virginia worked in the kitchen?
Mustard (yellow) & onion.
Michigan style coney island is the true hot dog you ignernt heethans.
The Michigan coney dog is the one true coney. There are the two original Coney Islands, American and National Coney Island built by competing members of the same family literally next door to one another.
Detroiters are supposed to pick a favorite, I’m partial to National but it’s basically 51 to 49%. They’re both pretty good.
A real Michigan coney dog has a very high quality dog (Michigan has very high purity standards for hot dogs) a steamed bun, a generous helping of chili (which is close to a chili sauce with ground beef but not quite) diced white onions, and yellow mustard. Melted cheese is optional if your doctor says your’e not getting enough cholesterol.
If I’m not having a coney dog, say at a cook out or ball game, plain with mustard.
Ketchup is ridiculous and mayonnaise is somewhere between a sick joke and a first degree felony. Don’t get me started on coleslaw, and mixing coleslaw with chili does nothing to improve West Virginias image.
Not to start an argument about hot dogs 😉 but I have been enjoying Zweigles Pop Opens (not the whites, the red ones). Any better suggestions?
Either brown mustard or chili/cheese. I did stop the ketchup thing well before adulthood. And I most assuredly prefer “dirty-water dogs” to grilled. And real Coney Island dogs (which you have to actually go to Coney Island to get) are to die for.
Bailey’s Hotdogs, DuBois, PA. Now out of business and no one in the family will share the chili sauce recipe. It was soft bun, grilled dog, ketchup, yellow mustard, pickle relish, sauce and chopped onions. I’ve been working on duplicating it for years, I think I’m getting close. Late husband liked it without the pickle relish, and I would skip that and the onions. Sheetz had a fairly good dog, but they changed the chili sauce and now you only get a “spoodle”of sauce and have to pay extra for more. A spoodle is about a tablespoon and a half. That amount won’t even drip down your chin. I like to play with my food, and I’ve been known to eat a dog with bacon, sauerkraut, ketchup, yellow mustard and chili sauce. Also good with queso cheese on the bun then the rest of those ingredients. I also like them wrapped in bacon, grilled, topped with caramelized onions. DQ also makes a decent dog.
The only sandwich I put slaw on is pork bbq. Pork bbq is another slice of heaven! And so many ways to fix it.
Gretchen Stevens says
Baileys! gosh I wish I can make that sauce. I did find the Nick’s which I enjoyed as well. I loved Ed’s flat top hamburgers in that soft bun with ketchup, mustard, mayo, onion and pickle! But Bailey’s dog with cheese, chili and onion-yummy as well!
Fran Goodey says
As an Aussie I’ve known that what Americans call ketchup is the same as our tomato sauce. But catsup? Not for felines I gather. I’ll look it up.
As for still being fat…try intermittent fasting (aka 5:2). You don’t have to give up any favourite food, or exercise. Really. You can keep your beer!
I believe Clint sums it up best
The Qweezy Mark says
Damn you all to hell! I went to Shake Shack last night specifically to get a Shack-cago Dog. It’s about my favorite dog out there.
When I arrived I saw they had a special item, Hot Chicken, that is a spicy chicken sandwich with slaw that tickled my fancy, so I went that way. It was really good, but I knew I hadn’t satisfied my dog cravings.
If I hadn’t also gotten the cheese fries I likely would have topped things off with a dog.
Damn you cheese fires!
The Qweezy Mark says
I will add that the Sonoran Dog of Southern AZ is a damn fine creation and if done right, is really hard to beat anywhere. BKs in Tucson rocks!
Ian the Errolite says
Hi. I don’t eat ‘Brittish’ hot dogs as they have chicken beaks and other assorted nasties in them. They make haggis look like a prime cut. Congratulations on the anniversary. I’ll stop sending links to tasty Scottish beers now!
Haggis IS a prime cut. It’s delicious. Nature’s perfect food. On the other hand I tried some “haggis flavoured” crisps the other day, and they pretty much sucked.
Is “Brittish” Scotch English? 😉 If you don’t eat British sausages you can’t have Toad In The Hole (with onion gravy). shm
Holy mother of Rabbie Burns, it looks like we’re up against Hooker’s Law here, which might eventually lead to SCEXIT from GB over beaks, assholes and toads, in and out of the hole. Sad.
I could not tell you the last time I had a Dog of Death. Not a fan.
I’m not really a hot dog kind of guy. Bratwurst are where it’s at. Usually have mine with just brown mustard.
Root 66 says
Mmmmmm…bratwursts! Yes, far better than hot dogs. Here in K’lumbus Ohio, Schmidt’s is the place for the best wursts! Everyone raves about their “Bahama Mamas” but I prefer their regular bratwursts and garlic knockwursts. I think I hear them calling now!
Chili Dog from Jacks Drive-in in Richwood WV.
Onions, mustard, chili, AND slaw.
Czech heritage dictates that kraut is on my dog along with mustard. As for the PSA – I’ve never seen it, although the music sounds like a Disney soundtrack. Strange for such a solemn message.
Lots of sodium: 500 milligrams in the regular size, 700 in the convenient dildo size, and 1100 in the “that better not be a dildo” size. My cardiologist spins around several times on her wheeled stool whenever I say the words “hot dog”.
I like mine with longitudinally-sliced sweet pickles, sweet relish and American mustard.
Joey Jo Jo says
JFC, why does everyone get their tits in a wringer about ketchup on a dog?
Maybe it’s because I never liked ketchup as a kid. I hated it, actually. But when I was about 22, a girlfriend put it on her fucking eggs – the height of insanity. But in the interest of potential sexual intercourse, I tried it. And I’ll be dipped in shit, but it was GREAT!.
Now, I like ketchup a lot. Even on a hot dog.
Ideal dog is probably K+M and some pickles, nothing else. But really, as long as there’s no jalapeno, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all good.
With respect, I disagree about the entertainment value of Green Acres, which starred the second or third most talented Gabor, and either featured a talking horse or didn’t.
However, before going on some kind of rant about the show, I did a little research on Eddie Albert, and found that in the ’50s, he was named as a Communist in the Red Channels publication (he wasn’t a Communist), and refused to “name names” of “other” so-called Communist sympathizers. He refused to testify or name names, but escaped with a couple year boycott, which is a whole lot less than other innocent entertainment people went through.
So I don’t have anything bad to say about Eddie. I wish he’d had better material to work with on the show. The talking horse seemed implausible, but he conveyed a deeper sense of rural emotion in his acting than did Ms. Gabor.
I would be more supportive of Hee Haw because pickin’ and grinnin’ beats just grinnin’ every time.
Sabrett’s or Hebrew National. Nathan’s in a pinch. Mustard (Gulden’s or yellow) and onions (raw, chopped, yellow or white).
Since moving to DC I have developed a taste for half-smokes. Weenie Beenie is the place to go.
When we lived in DC we loved the street meat. There was a truck parked on the corner at Washingtons Monument that provided free entertainment. Their sausage sign hung at the perfect level for hungry tourons to bang their heads. Too bad we didnt have easy video back then.
Secretly signing on at work. This is what my life has become. Sorry I haven’t been posting of late.
Anyway – Hot dogs – yellow or brown mustard and chili. Or just mustard. I have never had one with cole slaw but I wouldn’t rule that out. Cole slaw is excellent on roast beef or turkey sandwiches.
I’ll catch up soon on posting. I miss joining the banter. The Surf Reporters always get me out of a bad mood.
Franky T says
I have become a bit of a hot dog snob over the years. It started with the carnival foot long hot dogs, then progressed to NYC dirty water hot dogs, then Detroit style Coney dogs, and finally the Chicago dog complete with fluorescent relish (what’s that) and sport peppers (hold the giardiniera). Nowadays I prefer kosher hot dogs (no lips or assholes).
If you are ever in Brazil, try one of their hot dogs, their sausages put ours to shame.
Watching the Nathan’s July 4th hot dog eating contest make me gag, sorry Joey Chestnut.
And WTF is a “sport pepper” anyway? Is it like a sports bra? A sports car?
My favorite way to eat a hot dog is as follows. Pan fried in butter, in a toasted Hot dog roll with spicy brown mustard, My Poppop would make them for me when Grand(mom) was out and they make me happy 50+ years later.
Aside from that I am open to almost anything. Mustard, relish, catsup, chopped onions, chili, I even had Mexican hot dogs that used tortillas, refried beans, onions and queso.
But I can’t get used to putting lettuce & tomatoes on cheese steaks like they do in Pittsburgh
Carolina style: mustard, onions, chili, and slaw. Or my personal preference: chili and some sort of pumpable cheese. Jeff, during your Greensboro years did you have the dogs at Yum Yum’s (the best in the world)?
The Varsity Drive-In in Atlanta serve my favorite hot dog. The chili dog!! It’s just a steamed bun, dog and their own chili ( no beans ) and regular ol’ mustard. Sometimes I’ll put onions on it, but usually not. Hell, I was raised on them, and their chili steaks too, and I’m still kickin 62 years later. Have never been able to duplicate the hot dogs at home. When I look at where we’ll go to retire I always look at how far away the nearest Varsity is.
Hot dogs with ketchup only.
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.