By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

Column: Hot Dogs


I'm writing this on a Wednesday and just moments ago I spent a few minutes glancing at the Internet and found out it was National Hot Dog day. I know in this day and age there seems to be a "national" day for just about anything, but in my mind, the hot dog is very well deserving of having its own day.

If I had read the article just a few minutes earlier, I might have walked down to the convenience store and picked up a couple of hot dogs and loaded them up with toppings. The only problem with getting a hot dog at a store is you never quite know how long it has been sitting there. I get there are health codes and the whatnot, but I've wandered into 7-11's before in a major city and I'm sure the hot dogs might have been there since the Brady Bunch was on network television. It can be kind of hot dog roulette in this case, but I always take my chances. I don't think I would do the same with a gas station egg salad sandwich or sushi.

Over the years I've also eaten some amazing hot dogs at little carts and food trucks. One night following a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, I got a bacon-wrapped hot dog from a little cart and it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I'm not talking about just hot dogs; this was pure gold. They added onions and peppers to the steamed bun and I still find myself from time to time thinking about that hot dog. The crazy part about it is those little carts are technically illegal in LA, but that has not stopped them from popping up all over the place, especially after big events. I'm also fond of the "Chicago Dog" which is more like a little meal that features a high-quality hot dog, mustard, white onion, nuclear green relish, pickle spear, sport pepper tomato, and celery salt.

When I'm cooking hot dogs at home, I always make sure I get a little "pricier" brand like Hebrew National. I'll end up paying sometimes three or four more dollars, but it is well worth it. Growing up there were always so many jokes about what was in hot dogs and I think this still might be the truth of the package you can get for a buck.

Sometimes I will try to share my love of a great hot dog with someone and they just kind of laugh. Of course it is not a steak, but if it is done right, it is amazing.

I often think that the reason some people will not give a great hot dog its proper justice is that they remember the cheap ones they ate growing up, especially whatever it was they served in my school cafeteria. Possibly another reason people might not take the hot dog seriously is that they used to have a father that would throw one on the grill and not take it off for about seven weeks. I swear my dad would wake up in the middle of the night to put on hot dogs on the grill even though we would not be eating them until the next evening. They would come out so charred there wasn't even a taste of hot dog anymore so you couldn't tell if it was a good one or it was cheap.

I'm just glad that I decided to stop at some carts and food trucks over the years and learned to love a great hot dog.

I'm thinking I better change the dinner plans.

There is nothing quite like an LA bacon wrapped hot dog.


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