On The Hot Dog…
Food is a wonderful thing, it really is. I happen to love how awesome food is both for how simple you can make it and then turn around and jazz it up in so many ways. A prime example of this is the Hot Dog. A plain Hot Dog is just fine thank you, but add a little brown mustard and sauerkraut and you’ve got delight for your stomach. Ah but you can also chop up a Hot Dog and throw it in mac & cheese or even to Spanish Rice. The Hot Dog is the perfect utility food.
Now being a New Yorker, the Hot Dog was pretty much part of my regular diet for a very long time. Growing up in Manhattan one can’t spit without hitting a Hot Dog vendor. A Hot Dog from a Hot Dog Stand is one of the greatest treats ever. Most of the cart pushers still stick ot Sabrett’s as far as I know and God bless them for it! Sabrett’s are a magnificent Hot Dog, using a natuarl casing to give it a great snap. It doesn’t matter if you grill or boil a Sabrett’s dog, it always tastes amazing. Of course there is also Nathan’s but boiling a Nathan’s Famous Frank is a sin, it simply must be grilled. A Boiled Nathan’s dog just doesn’t taste right, the flavor of the casing isn’t really brought out as opposed to when you grill it. I mean who wants a bland hot dog? You know who? A communist that’s who!
I think the key to a good New York dog relies on the fact that they use casings for their dogs. I actually don’t like skinless Hot Dogs, the lack oif casing says that their a lack of flavor and a hot dog has to have flavor. Don’t believe me? Next time you go shopping at the market buy a pack of skinless hot dogs and a pack of Nathan’s Famous Franks. Grill both and see which has more flavor. I promise you it willbe the Nathan’s dog. That isn’t to say I won’t eat a skinless dog. I most certainly wil, but the dog in a casing is where the flavor is at my friend.
The problem of being in Ohio, they like to put Chili on everything. Fuck, I dare you to go to Cincinatti and get a Hot Dog WITHOUT chili. They look at you like a special needs kid for fuck’s sake! I won’t even get int othe struggle it is to get spaghetti sauce on spaghetti in Cincinatti. I shit you not, you order Spaghetti and Meatballs and you’ll get Spaghetti with chili over it and meatballs on the side. Ah but I’ve strayed from my main subject here… The Hot Dog!
There si a saving grace in Ohio andI’m just as shocked as the rest of America is that it is right here in Toledo. Ladies and Gentleman, Toledo has Hot Dog that rivals the masterful Dogs of Sabrett’s and Nathan’s! I’ll sum it up simply… Thank You Jess for turning me onto Tony Packo’s! There is astory here in case you couldn’t tell. I was working for a crappy crdit card processing company in Downtown Toledo and had gotten a job for my friend Jessica there. Jess loves Tony Paco’s. She was horrified when I told her I had never been therer or even had a Packo’s Hot Dog. It was like she felt genuinely sorry for me yet appalled by me at the same time. I am positive that at that moment Jess decided that if anyone wasgoing ot introduce me to Packo’s it was going ot be her. So one day for lunch we ventured forth to the nearby Fifth-Third Field. Across the street sat Packo’s At The Park. We ventured in, sat at the bar and began plotting our repast Our waitress/bartender took our order with a smile, 2 double dogs wit hthe works. What came out 5 minutes later were these amazingly large Hot Dogs, thick and bulbous, piledhigh with cheese, onions and chili. I ordered 2 of these things? I had to be mad!
Well order them I had and I sat and fixed myself to the task of eating them. It was magnificent. I mean it wasn’t a New York Dog but this was something completely new as far as taste. It was a Hot Dog in a casing that had been boiled, but it was circumference of the damn thing that got me. It was like a Blackjack made of meat. I was actaully challenged by these dogs. I mean I got these things FULL LOADED dn Tony Packo’s doesn’t skimp on the extras. After about 25 minutes, both dogs were gone. I had noted that Jess had eaten her Packo Dogs with this blssful smile on her face, like at that moment in time a bomb could’ve blown us all up but it all would’ve been alright because she was eating a Tony Packo’s Double Dog. I could totally, at that moment in time, completely agree to that sentiment.
Look, Hot Dogs are a very simple food. Youcan dress them up in bun with mustard or ketchup or chop them up and fry them with some scrambled eggs. They just miught be the most utilitarian food in your fridge. They are simple yet you can add such layers of complexity to them. Shit, I’ve even had good Hot Dogs at the movies and I’m not talking at the modern Multilex either. I mean like back in the 80’s, when the Hot Dog would just sit on the grill all day until some poor slob (i.e. me) would dare to try one. It is the simplest food that people from all walks of life will enjoy. Just go to New York to really see what I am gettign at. In a single file line a any Hot Dog stand you will find Lawyers, Construction Workers, Teachers, Brokers adn Cops. All ofthem are waiting for a Hot Dog. All of them just people that are hungry. The Hot Dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor. It just wants to reign in your appetite. To hell with it! Next time, after I bite into a Hot Dog I’m going ot say “Thank You Mr. Hot Dog!”.
Now if the Hot Dog talks back then I’ve got a problem…
James 5 Favorite Hot Dogs
1. Hot Dog Vendor At The Entrance To Carl Schurtz Park on 85th Street & East End Ave (NYC, NY)
This is the Hot Dog stand that was closest to my apartment as a kid in The City. I don’t care what anyone else says, his Sabrett’s Dogs were the fucking best!
2. Papaya King On The Corner Of 86th & 3rd Avenue (NYC, NY)
So what if they were shut doiwn for rats? They got rid of them! Besides Papaya King still has some ofthe best all beef hot dogs you will ever taste. They are a New York institution at this point. The Board Of Health could find out that the Hot Dogs are made from Human Meat and Papaya King would be shut down for aweek tops!
3. Nathan’s Famous (Coney Island, NY)
Say hello to the one thing on Coney Island that the Russian Mob doesn’t run! Nathan’s Famous Franks remain one of the greatest accomplishments on the 20th Century. They all somewhere beween the A Bomb and Man Landing On The Moon! Of course Nathan’s also has the infamous July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest, seriosuly NOT FOR AMATEURS!
4. Tony Packo’s (Toledo, Ohio)
Toledo makes up for its shitty Pizza with an amazing Hot Dog! Thick, meaty and flavorful. Now I understand why Jamie Farr wouldn’t shut-up about it! seriously though, the Packo’s Double Dog is just the perfect thing to kill your hunger. One will leave you satisfied. 2 will leave you in a coma for days!
5. Max’s Famous Hot Dogs (Long Beach, NJ)
Proof that not everythigg in Jersey is Toxic! Quite possibly the finest slow griddle cooked hot dog known to man. A good variant on the old fashioned Kosher Grilled Dog, a variant because… well… you can’t call it a Kosher Dog with Beef/Pork mixture. Still I’d punch your mom in the mouth to eat at Max’s again. Fuck, you’d punch your mouth in the mouth after trying it once!