The subject was hot dogs, their history, the different regional preferences,
and their place in our culture. The speaker was Bruce Kraig of Chicago.
Here he’s (left) being introduced by his buddy and walking-food-
history-encyclopedia-extraordinaire Andy Smith (right):
Much of the program revolved around taste-testing the various different
dogs: the “New York”; the “Coney Island” (aka Detroit); the “Chicago”;
the “Italian”; and last, but not least, the “Hudson Valley.” Program
participants ate their way through the offerings and rated each. The
“Winning Wiener” will be listed on lily’s menu for all to enjoy.
Naturally, when the first hot dog (the “New York,” a Nathan’s all-beef,
with sauerkraut and mustard) arrived at our table, I devoured the whole
thing before taking a picture. Silly me. Had a middle-age moment. Sorry.
Must’ve been hungry. So shoot me!
Here are the other four:
The “Coney Island,” which is really a Detroit specialty (not sure what’s up
with that), consisting of a Sabaret all-beef hot dog, with meat chili, yellow
onion, and mustard:
Next up, the “Chicago,” which is a Vienna brand (the largest manufacturer
in the Windy City area) all-beef dog with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish,
dill pickle spear, tomato, sport peppers, and celery salt:
Yes, notice fries accompanied the dogs. Well, actually, the first three.
Next came two that, in my opinion, were not really hot dogs. They were
sausages. Seems it’s like comparing apples to potatoes. Not right, doesn’t
make sense, shouldn’t be done,…. But, hey, whaddayagonnado?
First, the “Italian,” featuring a sweet and spicy sausage made in Newark, NJ,
with red ‘n green peppers, caramelized onions, and served on Italian bread:
And finally, another sausage-dog, the “Hudson Valley.” This was comprised
of an apple-sage sausage from Flying Pigs Farm, with apple and whole grain
mustard relish, served on a potato bun:
Overall, it was a worthwhile program, with tasty goodies and informative
commentary throughout. Mr. Kraig is a highly animated speaker, and
he did a good job of dealing with all the typical, rather dang annoying
commotion of a restaurant’s back room (right outside the kitchen and
in wait staff’s serving path…not the best place to be).
As for the tasting of the individual hot dogs, it’s my opinion that the regional
differences, so-called, merely have to do with what sauces and/or condiments
are heaped on top. Most of them masked any taste of the dog itself, and so
all you got was a mouthful of kraut or onions or mustard or whatever. The
hot dog itself seemed to be secondary. Most were the same (all-beef), just
made by different companies. And then the final two were sausages, not
hot dogs. Although, yes, hot dogs are basically the same, it’s their ‘heritage,’
the meat is just more finely ground, etc. In addition, Kraig seemed to imply
that sausages were first brought to this country by the Germans. I say, “No
way!” Early (English) settlers made sausages back in the early 17th century,
as did their fellow Britishers, and the French, and the Spanish, and others,
and in any past century, whether the 16th, the 15th, the 14th etc., etc.
So anyway, that’s my assessment, my opinion. And I’m stickin’ to it!
Incidentally, Bruce Kraig has written a book all about the beloved hot dog.
The title? Why “Hot Dog,” of course! Hot Dog, A Global History, to be
exact, and it’s part of The Edible Series, which is published by Britain’s
Reaktion Books Ltd.
One last photo of speaker Bruce Kraig with tasting participant Kate Ryan: