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Jan 19, 2012 04:42 PM

Is there a reason why

hot dog buns, sold here in L,A,, are side-split instead of on top like I remember from back east? I have yet to find top split buns in the market here. Does anyone know why they're not sold here or where I can buy them??

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  1. Top-split buns for lobster rolls and the like are unique to the Northeast and New England. You won't find them anywhere else, typically.

    39 Replies
    1. re: acgold7

      I was hoping they were available elsewhere. I'm from CT and know there are no better buns than those.

      1. re: mucho gordo

        When we lived in CT all the markets had both kinds, and it seemed to me the top-split were no different at all, save for the splitting location. The buns are the same.

        And as Lobster rolls aren't really commonly eaten elsewhere outside of NE, there's no practical need for a top-split bun. When I make them here in the NW, I use a side split bun and nobody really cares -- neither my wife nor her Mother (both from MA) have expressed the slightest nostalgia for the top-split. Certainly there isn't any taste or texture difference.

        What my MIL does constantly bitch about is the lack of proper oyster crackers for her "chowdah."

        1. re: acgold7

          There is a big difference. Top split forms a cradle for holding everything better and is a sturdier bun. Both sides of top split are equal in thickness whereas side split usually leaves a thin, flimsy lower portion that falls apart.

          1. re: mucho gordo

            ...unless you just turn it on its side....

          2. re: acgold7

            I have lived in CT for nearly 60 years and there is a major difference in top split and side split rolls.

            Top split rolls are ideal for toasting on a griddle surface as they have large flat 'crustless' surfaces on both sides. Side split buns do not toast well unless you flatten them out and toast the insides on the griddle surface.

            I use top split for seafood salads, tuna, chicken salad. I use side spilt for hot dogs. I like my dogs with kraut and find the top splits too thin to stand up to the kraut juice.

            1. re: bagelman01

              Side split buns:

              Commercially, places like Nathans that grill their product will place the bun over the dog upside down to soften without butter or grease. Only the outer top part of the bun is supposed to be toasted, not the inside.. Pushcart style and roller dogs, the buns are supposed to be steamed.

              1. re: fourunder

                I've worked in many a restaurant that 'toasted' top split buns on a griddle that hat a hot heating plate as well that lowered on the roll.

                Dirty water hot dogs generally go in steamed buns. The Nathan's method of buns over the dog wasn't invented to soften the buns. They move so many units the buns don't have a chance to get stale, BUT tomake plating and serving faster.

                I asked my late dad about this years ago. He worked a hot dog griddle at Nathan's Coney Island in the 1930s and this was an efficiency method instituted to keep the line moving.

          3. re: mucho gordo

            Outside of New England mOst people don't know about them. I prefer a top split and to those who say buy the unsplit and cut yourself, it really isn't the same. Something about the crust ratio. Also they aren't just for lobster rolls. All the CT folk I know use them for their hot dog as well. I don't know about minimizing loss of condiments however. Perhaps because the bottom is sturdier? Any thoughts?

            1. re: melpy

              The top split buns cost 3x more than regular split never go on sale...but you can always get regular buns on sale somewhere for a buck or less. Unless you are looking for a potato roll or something made with's only a vessel to eat something. It looks nicer for a Lobster roll....ultimately, the taste depends on the baker, not the shape or slice point.

              1. re: fourunder

                Don't know here you are shopping. When I was in Stop and Shop today (West Haven, CT branch) the store brand hot dog rolls were the same price for top split or side split. They tend to go on sale at the same price along with hamburg rolls. As I recall, brands such as Freihoffer have different price points, but I don't use them.

              2. re: melpy

                My friend who owns a hot dog wagon prefers the top split because he can put them on a plate and load them up without touching them. Others who use it for their lobster rolls seem to like it for aesthetic reasons more than anything, they think it looks classier, or more "authentic".

                1. re: coll

                  No disagreement on the aesthetics....Pepperidge Farms definitely taste better than other bakeries and store brands.

                  In general, for dogs, most store bought brands are too big, i.e., bun to dog ratio. Luckily for me, I can purchase small thin Sabrett/Pechter made rolls wholesale for about $1.30 for 12.

                  BTW...your buddy is lazy..... I used to have Hot Dog concessions in Flea Markets and special events back in the 80-90s.

                  : 0)

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Oh but he's 85 years old so starting to slow down a bit. Actually he is going to start using the Sabrett buns next year, since they are 1/3 the size and price, and hoping his customers won't fill up so much on bread and order another dog (or two!). Other wagons I know use Martins, which is nice but crazy.

                    1. re: coll

                      The science of pushcart Sabretts Children and Women order a minimum of 2 and three is not uncommom. Men order 3-5+.. Let's say a quarter pound dog is about $3. Most Women and Children will not order 2....Men may. With the smaller Sabrett, 3 for $4 brings in more cash flow is higher for the vendor and the manufacturer. That's the reason Sabrett, or Marathon, makes the smaller and thinner bun as specification.....they want to sell more dogs and less bread.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Yeah that's what the Sabrett rep told him and he finally saw the light. He is in a touristy area and seems to sell one to women and children, and 2 or 3 to men, big bun or not, probably because it's just a snack before a lobster dinner or whatnot. Well it's a truck so he sells microwave burgers, chips and ice cream and slushies and so on too. He sells 10 to 1 size like most in his area, I know one person sells 8 to 1, never heard of any of them doing a quarter lb-er!! (I've heard tell that 13 to 1 is the standard in NYC?) Oh and he gets $2.50 per dog, like it or leave it ;-) He does pretty well considering.

                        Sabrett/Marathon doesn't own the bread manufacing anymore, sold it a year or two ago, so I'm guessing the sales pitch has changed somewhat. They did use to push the bread even more than the dogs, and tried valiently to get their mustard, onions and sauerkraut in there too. The bread is now a lost cause for them, although they still distribute it. But it IS the thinnest one out there, by far.

                    2. re: fourunder

                      If you find the store brand buns to be too large, you are using a small hot dog. I buy dogs that are 4 or 5 per pound, I wouldn't bother eating hot dogs that are 2 ounces (8 per pound).

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        Is this a math test?.....or the buns are just too large no matter what size dog you purchase.

                        Two have no idea which brand hot dogs I purchase....and you could not possibly know how I like my hot dogs made, i.e. with what size count per pound....however, I'm happy to know what size you like and do not like.....

                  2. re: melpy

                    YES! It is all about the crust ratio. Side split buns have more crust and tend to be heavier on the bread than the top split. Here in New England we call them “New England style” hot dog buns (creative name, no?). Every grocery store here has both types. I prefer the New England style myself, but at backyard cookouts round these parts, you’ll see both kinds. As for lobster rolls, they are ALWAYS on a New England style bun. Any other way would be blasphemous.

                    1. re: mels

                      Depends where in New England you are. Maybe in Mass and North where they make lobster rolls with mayo you always find them on New England style rolls, BUT here in Connecticut (part of New England) where a hot lobster roll made of lobster grilled in butter is often found on a side split roll (such at Jimmie's opf Savin Rick) so the butter doesn't make complete mush of the roll (need the crust surface)

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        I love me a Jimmies lobster roll! Yes, side split.

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          Really??? I've never seen / had a lobster roll on a side split. I always thought top split was standard. I used to get mine at D'Andrea's on Dixwell.

                          1. re: mucho gordo

                            In fact in the old days The Cape Codder on Whalley Avenue in Westville Village served them on side spilt hamburger buns.

                            Jimmie's, Phyllis, Turks, Chick's and most of the other Savin Rock purveyors used side split buns. They opened the bun and buttered lightly and toasted them on the griddle before filling.

                            As a retired baker (I left that filed in 1978, hence the moniker bagelman) I learned that you can fit more New England Style buns on a sheet pan than side split buns since they sit upright and are baked pull apart, while side split are placed end to end or side by side. The more you can bake at once the cheaper it is to produce.

                            1. re: mucho gordo

                              you've been gone from the hood toooooo long. D'Andrea's on Dixwell must be gone almost 50 years

                            2. re: bagelman01

                              I've NEVER seen a lobster roll on side split rolls, and I live in CT as well. Even the lobster rolls in a prepared foods department at the grocery store are on NE style rolls....

                              1. re: kubasd

                                The loster rolls you see in the grocery stores are cold lobster meat and mayo similar to those served in Mass. It is the hot lobster rolls, lobster meat sauteed in butter that are served on side split rolls in restaurants such as Jimmie's (Savin Rock, West Haven, CT)ince they are readilly available it's time you changed never to I've seen and eaten one by visiting Savin Rock.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  Yes! Strictly the hit butter lobster roll. I imagine part of the reason it so the bun doesn't get too soggy from the butter which is wetter than mayo.

                              2. re: bagelman01

                                I like that you clarify "part of New England." :)

                                (Former Bostonian chuckling here)

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  Costello's in Groton CT serves their lobster roll on a hamburger bun. I go once a year, forget this fact, order it and am disappointed every time. But I do it every time!

                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                    Does Costello's serve a Hot Lobster Roll, or a Mass style cold lobster and mayo roll?

                          2. re: acgold7

                            Very limited distribution, I'm thinking Boston to Maine? Can't get them here on Long Island either, without jumping through hoops. Pepperidge Farm is the only bakery I know that makes them, and I'm sure they don't travel all that well, like most baked goods.

                            1. re: coll

                              They go beyond Maine. I get them in Nova Scotia :)

                              1. re: coll

                                Wegman's has them, at least in Western NY.

                                1. re: coll

                                  Shop Rite here at the Jersey Shore sells at least three different brands of top split buns.

                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                    I'm jealous. I'll have to look more carefully at the bread aisle this summer.

                                    1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                      Wall Township/Manasquan on 34? If so, that's a great store....maybe the largest selection of hot dogs I've seen a few years back.

                                    2. re: coll

                                      anywhere in CT or Rhode Island in any Stop and Shop, Big Y, Shop Rite etc.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        Coll - I have found the top split on L.I. It seems that stores sell out of them more quickly than the side splits. That store in Plainview carries them :-)

                                        1. re: EM23

                                          Thanks, I'll have to stock up before the summer!!

                                    3. Live in the midwest. Have only seen them on TV.

                                      1. If Pepperridge Farms products are available in your area...request it from your regular market and the PF distributor who supplies the store.


                                        A Google search indicates Pepperridge Farms sells product in LA, but I have no idea if the product is available to the West.

                                        1. Man, MG, I WISH we had top split buns on the West coast! They sound ALOT better for keeping my hot dog condiments IN the bun with the dog, rather than dribbling down or falling out.
                                          I did see a No Reservations episode for a local chain in Hawaii where they had those, and the deal was to squirt your choice of sauce down into the cavity to contain it, then the dog of choice was slid in; they had custom bun warmers too - heated rods so the bun was warmed. Sigh.

                                          I can think of all kinds of sammy's that would be great in a bun like that, especially if it was a better bun with a semi chew on the crust, and a decent crumb; any kind of chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad (!),creamy filling item would be GREAT in the East coast top split bun.

                                          Perhaps I am on to my next business plan.....

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. I faintly remember weiner wagons when I was but a wee lad long ago. The '60s in the Midwest was the place. I've never seen top split buns, to tell the truth.