Regional Hot Dog Styles Of America: Part 2

“Hot dog hot dog, it so yummy, hot dog hot dog, in my tummy.”

~The Brothers Grimm

hot dogs

Since we’re gluttons for punishment (or, honestly, just regular gluttons) we’ve decided to talk to you about every regional hot dog in America.  It turns out, there are a lot of places that claim their own style of hot dogs, and most of them adhere to the philosophy of “just douse it in chili,” which honestly, we fully support.  If you have a tube of unhealthy, delicious meat, covering that with even more delicious, unhealthy meat is pretty much the definition of an American impulse.  And so we continue onward into the sodium-enriched world of American hot dogs.

Regional Hot Dog Styles Of America: Part 2

more hot dogs

The science of a hot dog is pretty simple.  You take meat, mix it with water, garlic, salt, sugar, ground mustard, nutmeg, coriander, and white pepper, and whatever additional spices you might want to add, cure all that together, put it in a casing, cook it, eat it, close your eyes for a brief moment to let the sensation of culinary pleasure shudder through you, and repeat.  And boy do we know how to repeat that step in America.  On the Fourth of July alone, we eat 150 million of the suckers, and we honestly can’t think of a better culinary way to celebrate our nation’s awesomeness.  Of course, as we’ve said numerous times and will continue to repeat ad nauseam, with the hot dog being such a versatile canvas, dozens of regional variations exist in areas that decided to put their own local flare on their frankfurters.  So, keeping along with the list, here is the next crop of regional hot dogs, again listed with a general “the farther down the list you go, the better the hot dog” organization.

Seattle-Style Hot Dog (Seattle)

seattle hot dog

The most recent addition to our cultural hot dog landscape is the Seattle Dog, coming to us no earlier than the late 1980s, and are normally sold at bars and surrounding street venders.  The Seattle Dog became popular thanks in part to the grunge movement, which is sort of surprising since we’ve heard that heroin pretty much completely nukes your appetite.

The Seattle-style hot dog came about when someone decided that putting cream cheese on a hot dog would be a good idea.  This is akin to eating a tomato back when it was believed to be poisonous—the concept might make you cringe, but in practice it actually works better than hoped.  Apparently, the smooth texture of the cream cheese melds well with the hot dog, which is all then complimented by grilled onions (they’re sweeter than raw onions, which blends better with the cream cheese) and, if you are so inclined, jalapeno peppers.  Additional toppings can be included, such as sauerkraut, scallions, and condiments such as mustard, barbecue sauce, and Sriracha, but all of those sound like they would taste awful combined with cream cheese (except for Sriracha, because Sriracha is good on everything).

While we’re more than happy to give Seattle points for creativity (as recently as 1979, cream cheese companies didn’t even consider putting cream cheese on hot dogs, and this was during a time that they actively told you to put cream cheese in applesauce) the sight of a caulk gun specifically designed to shoot schmear onto a hot dog still is unsettling to us.  This only loses points because none of our staff has yet to try one, and when choosing between the unhealthy but unknown and the unhealthy and artery clogging, we’re forced to choose the latter every time.

Kansas City-Style Dog (Kansas City, Missouri)

kansas city dog

The Kansas City hot dog presents itself fairly simply (it’s about as basic as a New York-style dog) but it distinguishes itself from its mere three primary ingredients by tipping its hat to one of America’s favorite, most delicious sandwiches—the Reuben.  While the Reuben sandwich itself was invented in Omaha, that doesn’t stop Kansas City from saying, “Fuck it, Reubens are delicious, we’re going to make a hot dog version of it.”  So, the Kansas City-style dog gives you a pork sausage on a sesame-seed bun topped with mustard, melted Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.  Of course, some places will put Thousand Island dressing on there instead of mustard, which is not only acceptable, but probably preferable.  Now, why they use pork instead of a beef sausage for this is beyond us, but we still appreciate the originality of taking one of the handful of truly great sandwiches that wouldn’t be ruined in hot dog form (we just imagined a “peanut butter and jelly hot dog” and we can’t stop vomiting) and making that “your thing.”

Outside of that novelty (and the fact that, as a combination of ingredients, it makes for one delicious hot dog) the Kansas City-style doesn’t do too much to wow us.  It’s a serviceable hog dog, for sure, but there’s a reason why so many places in Kansas City spend more effort trying to perfect the much more delicious Chicago Style.

Rippers (Clifton, New Jersey)

rippers

Famously prepared in Clifton, New Jersey’s Rutt’s Hutt, a ripper is a hot dog native to the state that is deep fried until the casing ruptures (hence the “rips” you see in the “ripper” in the “picture” “above” “this” “paragraph” “word quotes”).  The dogs tend to be a combination of pork and beef with an artificial casing, which scientifically vastly is inferior to all-beef hot dogs in natural casings, but it also is deep fried until it looks like a burn victim, which while making the above image about 500% grosser looking with that mental picture in mind, also means that it’s deep fried which, as we all know, is a process that makes anything exponentially more delicious.

While Rutt’s Hutt, which began selling rippers in 1928, is the best known purveyor of ripper (with their patented yellow “Rutt’s relish” as a topping) anyone that deep fries a hot dog is okay in our book.  You keep doing you, New Jersey.

New Jersey Italian Dog a.k.a. Potato Dog (Newark, New Jersey)

italian dog

Speaking of New Jersey doing New Jersey, it’s surprising that they seem to have more (and better) hot dog variations than their more popular neighbors, because they not only have a hot dog made for frying, they have the Italian dog, which doesn’t even need to rely on steeping meat in boiling oil to enliven your taste buds (ha, just kidding, they totally fry the hot dogs for an Italian dog as well).  Originally invented back in 1932 by James “Buff” Racioppi, it’s been served by Jimmy Buffs for over 80 years, and judging from their website, they’ve even designed a website within the last 30.  Guys, the internet is wonderful, there’s this page called Geocities, and you can make words spin around like a circle on it.  Fascinating stuff, really.  Maybe someday they’ll find a way to put naked ladies on it.

Originally made for friends and family before eventually becoming the main menu item of the Jimmy Buffs, as far as we can tell the name “Italian hot dog” has nothing to do with the toppings or method of preparation—the basis for the name essentially boils down to, “Well, the guy who invented it was Italian!  He was so Italian that his nickname came from people mistranslating his name from Italian to English, so, fuck it, Italian hot dog!”  It’s since spread across the state of New Jersey as what has been described as one of the most unique hot dog styles in America.  Honestly, we can’t put up much of an argument against that statement.  The dog is assembled by taking a round “pizza bread” (similar to a pita or Muffuletta bread) that is then cut into half or quarters (depending if you want one or two hot dogs) with a pocket scooped out to place the wieners.  The inside is coated with mustard, and the whole thing is topped with onions, peppers, and crisp-fried chunks of potatoes, all of which is fried in soybean oil.

Some people prefer the Italian dog doused with ketchup, and we’re just going to pretend we haven’t seen that, because if you put ketchup on this divine concoction we would immediately rank it about eight slots lower.  Just, don’t do it.  You can dip the potatoes in ketchup maybe.  But really, don’t.  Just embrace the unique flavor of the pizza bread ladled with mustard to support your gently-fried natural casing hot dog and perfectly seasoned onions, peppers, and potatoes and pretend for just a moment that you’re eating something that’s refined and dignified.  The moment ketchup comes into play, you’re just left thinking, “Whelp, this tube of coagulated beef rectum tastes sweeter than it would have otherwise, thanks tomato-based corn syrup product.”  Ketchup is the worst.

And with that, we’ll leave you to salivate over those hot dogs as we go to the next series of hot dogs, most of which are from the south, which also means most of which incorporates chili, which science has told us makes everything far more delicious.  So stay tuned.

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6 responses to “Regional Hot Dog Styles Of America: Part 2

  1. Pingback: Regional Hot Dog Styles Of America: Part 3 | affotd

  2. Pingback: Regional Hot Dog Styles Of America: Part 4 | affotd

  3. Pingback: American Sandwich Series: Classic and Timeless American Sandwiches (Part 1) | affotd

  4. Pingback: American Sausage Series Part 1: Typical American Sausages | America Fun Fact of the Day

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