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Feb 14, 2002 10:49 AM

Quintessential Hot Dog?

  • t

What do you consider the quintessential hot dog?
Where did you experience it and what do you associate with it?
Is it one of the All American foods like Apple Pie, Popcorn, etc.?
Do you call it a Frankfurter, Hot Dog, Weiner, Brat, Sausage, etc. ?
What do you consider New York Style?
Chicago Style?
Other Cities and Regions?
Do you like:
Sebert's, Nathans, Hebrew National, etc. ?
Mustard, Ketchup, or Plain?
Onions- Coney Island style sauce? Commercial or fresh made? or raw?
Saurkraut, Chili, Relish, Cheese... weird fixin's?
From a Cart, Restaurant, your Home or Grill?

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  1. Gotta be a Sabrett's dog and a cheap, generic can of soda from a street cart; in the wintertime; eaten standing up next to the cart; the steam from the hot dog water and the simmering spicy red onions and kraut wafting up in my face.

    Or a Max's dog, in the summertime, eaten at the original location(long gone)on the Long Branch boardwalk, with the waves crashing underneath my seat and the salt spray in the air.

    8 Replies
    1. re: 2chez mike

      From my days in New York, of course its gotta be a Sabrett- ditto everything the first replier said. It is great that Sabretts are nationally marketed, so we can grill them in Florida year-round. In Central Florida, some meat shops sell a "Belly Buster," which are hard to describe well, as opposed to any other hot dog, but they are bigger, fatter, denser. They are hard to find. Straying from New York-style, I have just latched on to the "West Virginia Hot Dog," a chili dog, with onions, on a steamed bun. In some parts of West Virginia, add cole slaw to the dog as well. And some West Virginianers consider Slaw on a hot dog just for hillbillies.
      Meanwhile, back in New York, a Nathan's dog ain't bad.
      And my wife just added her preference of a Coney Island Hot Dog, with "Coney Sauce" (not chili, thank you), and cheese.

      1. re: ric

        For a hot dog fanatic like myself, New Jersey is a very good place to live. You can get many different types of hot dogs. I guess that for most people, a boiled Sabrett's would be considered the quintessential hot dog. Unfortunate, because I find street dogs bland, and for the most part flavorless.
        If you like boiled hot dogs, the best I've had is from a walk up storefront in Elizabeth, N.J. called Jerry's. This dog is cooked a unique way; boiled, then placed on a metal griddle. This gives it an extra crunchiness and flavor. Plus the brand used is Best's from Newark, N.J. a brand I consider superior to Sabretts.
        In N.J. you also have the deep fried dog popular in the north. These are made by Thumann's and also Grote & Weigel from Conn. Made especially for deep frying by adding semolina and soy protein. This makes the dogs plump up. They are pork/beef rather than all beef and lack the spicy garlicky/paprika flavor. I like both types of dogs, but I find that most people prefer one and dislike the other. Devotees of the all beef find the other bland, while those used to the beef/pork blend find the all beef too spicy.Rutt's Hut in Clifton makes an excellent example of the north Jersey deep fried dog. They have an excellent homemade relish that is shipped and sold all over the world. This dog is one of my 2 favorites.
        My other favorite is an all beef dog slow cooked on a griddle that is served at Father & Son Luncheonette in Linden, N.J. This dog is made by Grote & Weigel in Conn. and is better than any all beef dog I've had. This includes Papaya King, Katz's, and Syd's in Union, N.J. (my hometown) which makes a footlong, charbroiled Best's brand dog.
        You also have the Texas Weiner which originated in N.J. This is a dog with chili sauce, onions, and mustard. There are 2 types of Texas Weiners. The Plainfield area Texas Weiner which is a griddled dog with thicker chili, and the Paterson/Clifton area Hot Texas Weiner which is deep fried and has a thinner, spicier chili. In my opinion, the Hot Grill in Clfton makes the best Texas Weiner chili. They are famous for this and ship it anywhere including England.
        Another type of hot dog unique to New Jersey is the Italian Hot Dog. This consists of an all beef hot dog( 2 for a double) deep fried and served on half of a circular pizza bread with sliced, deep fried potatoes, onions, and peppers. This type of dog originated in Newark, N.J. in the 1920's. Almost all of the places use Best brand all beef dogs from Newark. There is a bastardized version of the Italian Hot Dog served down the Jersey shore. They use hoagie rolls instead of pizza bread, pork/beef dogs instead of the spicier all beef (all beef is better for this type of sandwich) and french fries instead of circular deep fried potatoes. The best Italian Hot Dog place is Charlies Famous Italian Hot Dogs in kenilworth, N.J. I've gone there so many times, I've gotten my daughter a job there. Charlies Sons (not related) in Union, and Tommy's in Elizabeth (next to the aforementioned Jerry's Hot Dogs) are also very good. Better than the more well known Dickie Dees and Jimmy Buff's.
        Trying different hot dogs and hot dog places is a hobby for me. I forgot to mention that I order Usinger's Angus all bbef franks from Wisconsin. To many hot dog conniseurs, these are the finest in the world. They are top quality, but a little spicier than Best's or Grote and Weigel all beef. Depends on what I'm in the mood for. If you need directions to any of the fine hot dog places in N.J., or have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me.

        1. re: John Fox

          I agree with the Jersey dog rundown. To get a taste of Jersey dogness in Manhattan, I recommend Crif-Dog, on St Marks between Ave A and First Ave (closer to Tompkins Sq). Owner Chris and his partner are from Jersey, and did a research pilgrimage to all the classic spots such as Rutt's. The result is their shrine to hot dogs. They make their own relish, have their own secret-recipe chili, and won't disclose from where they get their dogs, but I suspect it might be Thumanns. It's a must try for any weiner worshiper.

          1. re: John Fox

            Wow, John! Awesome dog knowledge! If anyone is thinking of trying Ted's in Buffalo (#8 on J&M Stern's Top 10 Nat'l HD list!), you should know that (if i remember correctly) they serve Sahlen's HDs (yuck!), which are the inferior pork/beef type, not the superior kosher-style Nathan's all-beef type. I was bitterly disappointed when i tried one. (It was better than nothing, but not much.) Much ado about nothing, Sterns! Also, i fondly recall Little League BBQs that featured House o' Weenies HDs -- probably the best i ever had. Check 'em out (if you can find 'em)!

            1. re: jellyapple

              Just because a hot dog has pork in it doesn't make it "inferior". It just gives it a different flavor.

              1. re: jellyapple

                A lot of debate over whether all beef, kosher style is superior to beef/pork. I like both types, but it wasn't always so. Kosher style (all beef and spicy but not blessed by a rabbi) has more of a flavor than beef/pork or pork/beef. These are usually 60% pork 40% beef. Most dogs made by the larger producers like Oscar Mayer, Ballpark, Kahn's and all those containing poultry are, in my opinion, an inferior product. I feel that some of the better quality places that make German Style Franks put out an excellent product. This includes places like Fritz's Pork Store, Union Pork Store, Gaiser's, and Lutz's all in my hometown of Union. Thumann's makes an excellent dog for grilling as does Schickhaus. Great for people who don't like garlic or a spicy dog. Thumann's also makes a dog for deep frying, as discussed above. My family hates it; I love it, and it is sold at Rutt's Hut, Hiram's, Eagan's, Libby's, etc and considered one of the most popular dogs in the country.
                I never liked the dogs that weren't kosher or kosher style; but since I have to try every hot dog place I come across; I've since acquired a taste for them. Max's in Long Branch makes a great grilled beef/pork frank. Perhaps my favorite is a well done (weller as it's called) dog from Rutt's Hut with thier fantastic relish. Best all beef dog is the Grote & Weigel frank sold at Father & Son in Linden, N.J. Papaya King is a close second.

                1. re: jellyapple

                  I wholeheartedly defend the Ted's dog (several branches in Buffalo and one in Phoenix). the big key to the Ted's dog is not entirely the differnet content (sahlen's pork based) but the char-broiling process. I bet if you prefer the all-beef style dog or kosher style, and it were cooked in this process (although in some cases boiling or griddle-fry CAN be good) you would like other dogs than in their otherwise cooking methods.

                  Also, Ted's has the an added advantage of great fries (use vinegar not ketchup) basket style string onion rings, and not to mention the regional favorite beverage LOGANBERRY DRINK (although they do use the inferior brand of syrup..NOT the original crystal beach stuff)

                2. re: John Fox

                  We live in Fl and would like to order "Texas Weiner Sauce" from Hot Grill in New Jersey. Do you know how we can order from Fl and have Hot Grill in Jersey ship it?

            2. Wonderful string of messages about hot dogs. To anyone interested in more, check out Holly Moore's hog dog page.

              My one addendum to the discussion:

              If you try Syd's, get the boiled version, not charbroiled.


              1 Reply
              1. j
                Josh Gallaway

                I apologize for randomness. My favorite hot dog is from a place called Coney Island located in Ft. Wayne Indiana. They're sure good, and part of the experience is the 1914 lower-lower-class decor of the place.

                They steam the buns, which I like; however my girlfriend informs me it's "gross". Whatever.