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Mar 11, 2013 08:47 AM

Maine-style red dogs?

So I'm doing a bit of hot dog research and I'm intrigued by the red hot dogs of Maine. A few questions for you: Are there any traditional/common toppings that go on these hot dogs? Also, there seems to be a connection between hot dogs and lobster rolls. Are these often sold at the same venues? Do they use the same bun? The bun is buttered and toasted? fyi I'm from Nova Scotia and we have the top cut buns as well. We just don't call them New England buns or lobster buns because a) there is no hot dog culture here, and b) we don't use them for our lobster rolls. Okay, I appreciate any help! Thanks!

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  1. This is very interesting. I am from North Carolina, and here (and throughout the South) we have a long tradition of red dogs, but I had no idea they existed in other parts of the country. Cole slaw is the traditional topping here, along with some combination of mustard, chili and onions.

    1. Oh the beloved red hot dog (called the red snapper by some because of it's snap when you bite into it). Not to be confused with the "red hot" which is what the Chicago dog can be referred to. Totally different. I've often thought about what my last meal would be if sitting on death row and it would be a plate of baked beans, two grilled (slightly charred) red hot dogs thrown on top, with a side of potato salad and a couple of buttered rolls.

      When eating this for sunday night suppah though, brown bread and cole slaw is also common. Probably more common actually.

      Go into an Irving gas station around these parts and you'll see steamed red hot dogs in one bin, steamed top split buns in the other, and a big assortment of condiments (typically raw onions, relish, ketchup, and mustard). VERY common to eat them steamed (both the dog AND the bun).

      As far as I know the only company that makes these anymore round these parts is Kayem based out of Chelsea Mass. Maine based Jordan's used to be the big one, but they went out of business years ago. For those of you from away, as you're sitting at Duckfat in Portland looking out over that big green space across the street...that was the Jordan's factory. I think I've come across some still branded as "Jordan's", but I don't know who makes them.

      As for the connection with lobster rolls...none that I know of. I suppose it's not that uncommon to be able to get both at some venues...most likely the more food focused gas stations than a lobster shack. And it does seem true that both seem to use the top split bun...though I think that's just de rigeur here anyway when it comes to buns.

      10 Replies
      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

        Thank you for your reply. A couple things:

        Chicago hot dogs are not called "red hots" - I've been on a Chicago hot dog tour and they use Vienna all-beef dogs (standard hot dog colour). My research has informed me that "red hots" (along with "white hots") are the hot dogs of upstate New York.

        Also, is it common for the buns to be toasted? I found several sources saying this was the case. Toasted vs. steamed... ??

        That's too bad the main producer shut down. They are still a common site though...?

        1. re: existential_crisis

          "Can". I didn't say "are". Red hot is a fairly generic term for a hot dog...not limited to Chicago...but I've certainly heard them referred to as that there. "Get your red hots here!!" But I suppose your right that I shouldn't limit that comment to just Chicago.

          But you would never call a New England red hot dog a red hot. Not as far as I know...

          Sure, toasted buns are common...especially when frying the dogs in a pan at home. Buttered and toasted. I don't think that's unique to Maine. If grilling them outside in the summer...throw the buns on too at the end to char 'em up a bit. Also not unique to Maine.

          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

            I've just never experienced or heard of a hot dog bun being buttered and toasted. Toasted, perhaps. I read somewhere that that's why the New England buns are preferred, namely, because the sides are flat for easy toasting.

            1. re: existential_crisis

              Back in the day (40 years ago) a hot dog served on a buttered & toasted N.E. roll was a mainstay of Howard Johnson's restaurants, up & down the east coast (and perhaps elsewhere). They are one of my fondest memories of roadtrips growing up.

        2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

          W.A. Bean & Sons in Bangor still produces red hot dogs. Highly recommend them over Kayem.

          1. re: motease

            Nice, thanks for the heads up. Are these in Hannaford?

            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

              I've seen them in the Bangor/Brewer Hannafords in the past, but never in the southern part of the state. They do have a retail store in Bangor, however. Lots of goodies to be had there.

          2. re: MidCoastMaineiac

            Anyone know of any places outside of Maine selling Red Snappers?

            1. re: SP1

              Kayem is the big producer now and they're based in Chelsea MA so I have to believe the larger grocery chains down there would have them.

              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                Most of the supermarkets in Southern VT & NH have them

          3. There's a photo of one here: Is this the style of bun that you can get in Nova Scotia? You can steam the bun and grill the dog, or grill the bun and steam the dog, or steam the dog and steam the bun, or more rarely, grill the dog and also grill the bun. Use just a smidgen of butter when grilling each side. (And I shouldn't be calling it a bun, in Maine they call it a roll. And yes it's the same roll used for lobster rolls usually.)


            2 Replies
            1. re: jackattack

              lol Yes, those are the same "buns" - but they are never grilled or toasted here, nor are our hot dogs ever red.

              1. re: jackattack

                That is called a New England style hot dog roll. In many places in NE it's THE predominant form of hot dog roll.

              2. I am in Nova Scotia as well and often buy the top split buns. It's strange that you say we don't call them New England buns because that is exactly what is marked on the package. I always buy them for hot dogs and lobster rolls. For lobster rolls I butter and grill in a frying pan and for hot dogs I toast them on the BBQ. No one who has eating them with me thinks either of these ideas is new or strange.

                1 Reply
                1. re: moira27

                  That's interesting. I guess I never looked at the bags. Either way, I don't think people here are that discriminating about what kind of bun or the way it is cooked. There isn't much of a hot dog culture here (unless there is and I have yet to learn about it, I know that Larson's is a thing). I have NEVER had a buttered and toasted hot dog bun. Toasted on the BBQ, yes. Buttered, no. Not that I'm the Nova Scotia hot dog authority, just a curious hot dog enthusiast who envies US hot dog culture. I think it's safe to say there is no "way" that Nova Scotians eat hot dogs, and that anything goes. As for lobster rolls, I've never had one in a "New England" style "roll". Maybe I'm eating too many fancy ones lol or using the McLobster as my standard!

                2. Besides the red casing dogs, you see the same ones in un-dyed casings. These are both usually at supermarkets. Some people swear by the red ones, others don't. If made by the same company the hot dogs taste the same. Some hot dog stands use red some don't, and some don't use dogs with casings at all.

                  Also there are several hot dog places in Maine that are unique. They have various sauces and styles each is known for. Many of the hot dog stands don't use the red dogs, or even ones with casings. There are a lot of types of hot dogs popular in Maine.

                  At Wasses a small chain in the mid-coastal area the bun is more griddled, than toasted. It is opened and laid down on the griddle. The griddle/flat top is coated heavily with peanut oil, and the dogs, and onions, are sauteed.

                  And Flo's Hot Dog's down south in Cape Neddick and another location


                  Rapid Ray's in Saco

                  Bolley's in Hallowell and Waterville

                  Dog House in Kittery

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JMF

                    Whoa JMF. That Wasses bun gets nowhere near the griddle...those babies are steamed!!

                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                      You know what, you are right. Got different places mixed up.