Roller Grills - Why the stigma?

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Wienie Will
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2011/09/03 07:42:12 (permalink)

Roller Grills - Why the stigma?

Now...  I'm not saving I'm an advocate of, nor opposed to a roller grill, but there - IS - a certain stigma attached to roller grills...  And I'm not sure why...
 
It seems to me that the majority of Hot Dog Joints use a flat-top steel grill to cook their franks.  I'm guessing because of ease of maintenance & cleanup.  Face it - deep fryers, charcoal grills & gas grills require quite a bit more maintenance - because of their design...
 
So...  You start with a flat-top grill & you soon realize - "Hey...  If I add motorized rollers to this thing - I won't have to keep rotating the hot dogs by hand to grill them evenly on all sides!"
 
Now this, obviously, locks you into casing-less hot dogs or hot dogs with a collagen casing  (Does - ANYONE - know of any hot dog manufacturers who use a  collagen casing?) as natural casing hot dogs are curved & won't roll properly...
 
So it seems that roller grills are a time saving device - so I gotta ask...
 
Why the stigma?!?!
 
Will
www(dot)Will'sWienerWorld(dot)com
#1

27 Replies Related Threads

    MellowRoast
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 07:49:35 (permalink)
    I've wondered the same thing.  Perhaps it has to do with the time required to properly cook the franks in relation to how slowly or quickly they will sell.  On more than one occasion, I've eaten roller grilled franks only to find them overdone and unappetizing.  When they're on the machine just the right amount of time, whatever that may be, they're excellent.
    post edited by MellowRoast - 2011/09/03 09:25:38
    #2
    Wienie Will
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 10:51:46 (permalink)
    MellowRoast,
     
    I submit that any hot dog left on the grill too long (whether a traditional grill or a roller grill) will be "unappetizing"...
     
    As you probably know, some hot dogs have been "formulated" (Can I use that word?) to handle high heat - but those types of dogs are usually "designed" (again...  Can I use that word?) to be deep fried (outside the scope of this thread).
     
    As far as franks cooked on a roller grill...  I'm not sure I'd use the adjective "excellent" for them - as I prefer a hot dog with a natural casing - and reserve that adjective for those dogs...
     
    OTOH...  I have had (perhaps) more than my share of gas station/convenience store/movie theater roller grilled hot dogs - and as you state "When they're on the machine just the right amount of time" (and they're a quality pup) - they ain't bad!
    #3
    fishtaco
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 10:55:34 (permalink)
    WoW, Have never heard of this "stigma". I love dogs on a roller grill. Just a tad overcooked.
    #4
    6star
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 11:09:14 (permalink)
    Perhaps the roller-grill "stigma" is a Roadfood creation.  After all, the gas station/convenience store/movie theater is not normally a Roadfood-type location.  Hence, the "stigma" about the roller grill.
    #5
    ken8038
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 11:22:03 (permalink)
    With me, I think it's more psychological than any other reason. It conjures up memories of 3 day old hot dogs rolling on a grill at any movie theater I ever went to as a kid.  
     
    #6
    Twinwillow
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 11:38:33 (permalink)
    A hot dog without a natural casing is a "stigma" to me.
    #7
    Wienie Will
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 12:53:04 (permalink)
    Twinwillow
    A hot dog without a natural casing is a "stigma" to me.

    I quite agree...  I can't believe the number of folks who think a generic "Oscar Mayer"-class hot dog is a good eat...
     
    *) SHUDDER (*
    #8
    John Fox
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 14:03:36 (permalink)
    Why the stigma? I can only speak for myself but when I see or think of a roller grill I'm reminded of the mediocre dogs you get at gas stations, movie theatres, and 7-11's. Most of the time dogs prepared this way are underdone or greasy or dry from being on the roller grill too long.
     
    I agree that "when they're on the machine just the right amount of time and they're a quality pup -they ain't bad," but this is the exception.
     
    As for being a time saving device, this doesn't concern me. I'm a consumer and would rather eat what I want. If the hot dog stand wants to save time, that's their business; I'll just go somewhere else. It's similar to the argument I have with people who serve frozen fries. I prefer fresh and will have them with a hot dog. I'd rather not waste the calories on frozen fries; I'll just order another hot dog. But the owner or proprietor will tell me how labor intensive making fresh fries is and give me a slew of other reasons. I don't care, I'm eating them, not making them. Same for those who tell me they charge more because their rent is higher. Well I'll go elsewhere to get the same dog cheaper. I'm supposed to be more inclined to pay $6 for a tiny hot dog and $10 for a lite beer because my team tells me they have to be able to afford overpaid players? Not with my money.
     
    If you look at the New Jersey Hot Dog Thread I recommended a place that uses a roller grill. But this is an exception. The particular place prepares it well and has an excellent chili. If it was a plain dog, I wouldn't get it or recommend it despite the preparation and the quality brand. A skinless hot dog prepared on a roller grill cannot compare to a natural casing dog prepared on a grill or griddle. That's just my opinion.
     
    While I wouldn't tell anyone how to enjoy their dogs or how to run their business, I'm free to have my opinions and patronize the places I prefer. Just like anyone else is free to serve whatever type of dog they want, prepare it how they want, and charge what they want for it.
     
    The easiest way to illustrate the difference is to go to Nathan's in Coney Island. Or their location in the Menlo Park Mall. A dog there will have a natural casing, be prepared on a hot griddle, have a nice char, and excellent flavor. Then go to one of the inferior franchises that prepare a skinless Nathan's frank on a roller grill. Even if the second dog is fresh and prepared well, it cannot compare. Maybe many, if not most people do not notice a difference, those of us who are serious about hot dogs do.
     
    I understand and agree that roller grills have their place. In movie theatres, gas stations, and convenience stores. But if you are going to open a place that specializes in hot dogs first and foremost, why not use a quality natural casing frank and prepare it using a better method than a roller grill?
     
    In New Jersey where people take their hot dogs seriously, a roller grill is indeed rare for a place specializing in hot dogs.
    post edited by John Fox - 2011/09/03 15:07:40
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    John Fox
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 14:07:33 (permalink)
     "Does anyone know of any hot dog manufacturer who uses a collagen casing?"
    Yes. Hebrew National makes about 10% of their dogs with a collagen casing for Jewish/kosher dlis, Wegmans, and other retail outlets.
     
    Gilbert's Craft sausages out of Wisconsin uses a collagen casing. Grote & Weigel makes a collagen casing frank for the Galloping Hill Inn in N.J. Sahlen's makes a collagen frank (and also one with sheep casing) that is sold in supermarkets. Empire National makes a collagen frank. There are quite a few others as well.
    post edited by John Fox - 2011/09/03 14:16:13
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    ynotryme
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 14:20:04 (permalink)
    we have a rolling grill at our house and the hot dogs come out juicy and delicious. we normally use hebrew nationals.
    #11
    MellowRoast
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/03 15:16:53 (permalink)
    I suspect a roller grill would be absolutely fine at home, because you don't have to worry about cooking time constraints or lack of customers.  I wouldn't mind having one at home.
    #12
    Foodbme
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/04 01:20:42 (permalink)
    It's not so much the type of equipment as it is the quality of the dog. Most Roller Grill places use a lower quality dog.
    Circke K Convenance stores in AZ sell a special blend 4/1 dog made by OM called a "Diamond Dog" as a promo for the AZ Diamondback Baseball team, who incidently have a 6 game lead in the NL West race after beating the Giants tonite. The dog aren't too bad, however, putting the condiments on them is a bitch. The mustard tends to squirt all over the place and getting relish and onions out of those damn little packets is maddening!
    post edited by Foodbme - 2011/09/04 01:22:59
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    BackRhodes
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/04 05:00:48 (permalink)
    A question I have about roller grills is the amount of time it takes for them to get the dog up to a good temperature...and to ME a "good temperature" is ABOVE the minimum "safe food temperature"...
     
    Is it a combination of a crappy dog cooked in a crappy away...???
     
    Personally, I learned a LONG time ago to AVOID roller cooked dogs...I'd rather eat cardboard coated with lard...
    #14
    John Fox
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/04 08:29:55 (permalink)
    Most of the time it is a crappy dog. And usually it is undercooked, overcooked, or too greasy. Hence the stigma. The place using a roller grill that I recommended served a quality frank (Thumann's) that was prepared well. I even observed the employee checking on the dogs before he noticed me. But this would not be enough for me to stop in again or recommend the place. It was because the chili was so good along with the 2 other factors that will have me returning. If any one of these 3 was less than excellent, I would not be back. If you take the chili served at this place and put it on top of the same brand of dog, but with a natural casing and prepared on on real grill, you would have a world class dog instead of just a good one.
     
    I also try to seek out dogs with a casing. The exception being an Italian Hot Dog, which is the only instance where I actually prefer a skinless dog. But the casing, even the brand itself is less important when you have a particular topping (especially chili or meat sauce) that you are focusing on. In New Jersey almost all of the places I know of serving Texas Weiners use a quality dog with casing. Other states may not. I love a place in Middletown, N.Y. called the Coney Island Restaurant. The chili is thick, meaty, and has the spice level (mild) that I prefer. In fact the place I recommended with the roller grill (The New Coney Island Restaurant in Perth Amboy, N.J.  -not related) has a practically identical chili. But the Coney Island Restaurant in Middletown, N.Y. used what I consider a standard run of the mill skinless beef/pork dog (Tobins at the time) that I wouldn't seek out on it's own. But when you add the chili, it becomes for me a destination spot. The chili makes the dog a standout and the actual frank more or less is a holder for the chili. Even so, I would prefer a better natural casing frank, but it's not as important. I buy chili once in awhile from certain restaurants and use it occasionally although 90% of the time I make hot dogs at home I use  just mustard. I've put it (chili) on skinless dogs that my wife buys at the supermarket as well as the better natural casing dogs I seek out that aren't as common. The ones I get are better though not making as much of a difference (because of the chili) as they would if I was using only mustard. I hope this makes sense.
     
    But if you use a mediocre dog, to me it doesn't matter if it's prepared well and topped with the best chili in the world. It is still something I wouldn't look for or buy usually. I say usually because sometimes I do eat mediocre dogs. Very rarely, but when I'm in a rush and haven't eaten or if it's the only option, like at a backyard cook out. Similar to bad or frozen pizza. You wouldn't seek it out, but if you're hungry and there are no other options it will do. And that's what makes you appreciate the good stuff all the more.
    post edited by John Fox - 2011/09/04 08:42:58
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    cavandre
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/05 18:59:48 (permalink)
    I'll always have fond memories of roller-dogs. One of my routes home from grade school (dating myself with that term) brought me past a W.T. Grant's dept. store. Their snack stand served a roller dog on a buttered, toasted New England bun. At 3:15 in the afternoon, those were a welcomed treat.
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    Buddy Dek
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/05 19:33:24 (permalink)
    Well said John and to the point. Most places that have dogs on a roller are the same places that serve low quality dogs with no emphasis on freshness, or care for that matter how long they roll. I think the best dogs come from a flat-top  grill.        Buddy
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    Twinwillow
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/05 19:58:38 (permalink)
    I think it's just as easy and, probably faster to cook your favorite dogs on a griddle or large non stick pan at home rather than a roller.
    I buy Thumann's natural casing dogs and boil them gently for a few minutes and then finish them on my trusty heavy pancake/burger flat griddle.
    The buns are toasted on the same griddle.
    #18
    MellowRoast
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/05 20:08:45 (permalink)
    Twinwillow

    I think it's just as easy and, probably faster to cook your favorite dogs on a griddle or large non stick pan at home rather than a roller.


    I think you're probably right about that.
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    SeamusD
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/08 16:33:31 (permalink)
    I worked at a convenience store a couple decades ago, and almost the worst job in the place was cleaning the roller grill. I was pulling third shift, so I ended up doing it most nights. What a pain. It also cured me of ever eating convenience store hot dogs ever again.
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    rumaki
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/08 16:49:03 (permalink)
    cavandre, I agree with you.  I have similar memories of the roller grill dog served at the Woolworth's lunch counter in suburban Indianapolis in the late 50s/early 60s.  My mother used to take me there for lunch on the first day (half day) of school, when I was in grade school.  Then we'd buy my school supplies based on the list the teacher provided.
     
    Roller grill dog served on a buttered (well, I think it was buttered), toasted New England bun.   And a fountain Coke.
     
    This was before I went to college in Chicago and discovered Chicago Style Dogs. 
     
    But until then, for me, that was the ultimate dog.  And I was very sad when the lunch counter, and then the whole store, closed. 
    #21
    Twinwillow
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/08 18:11:12 (permalink)
    cavandre

    I'll always have fond memories of roller-dogs. One of my routes home from grade school (dating myself with that term) brought me past a W.T. Grant's dept. store. Their snack stand served a roller dog on a buttered, toasted New England bun. At 3:15 in the afternoon, those were a welcomed treat.

     
    Me too! But back then after school, I'd have eaten buttered roadkill.
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    CajunKing
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/09 18:59:30 (permalink)
    MellowRoast

    Twinwillow

    I think it's just as easy and, probably faster to cook your favorite dogs on a griddle or large non stick pan at home rather than a roller.


    I think you're probably right about that.

    My lions club swore by their roller grill for cook out events that we do through town.  It takes forever to get to safe temps and the heating was always uneven.
     
    We switched to a grill and griddle pan and people love them now.  it takes way less time to get it to safe temps and the grill adds just that bit of char that makes a dog good.
     
    Now if I can only convince them to use something besides Bar-S brand 
    and go with a real dog, but they are cheap and mostly for the kiddies so.....
    #23
    CajunKing
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/09 19:01:06 (permalink)
    Twinwillow

    cavandre

    I'll always have fond memories of roller-dogs. One of my routes home from grade school (dating myself with that term) brought me past a W.T. Grant's dept. store. Their snack stand served a roller dog on a buttered, toasted New England bun. At 3:15 in the afternoon, those were a welcomed treat.


    Me too! But back then after school, I'd have eaten buttered roadkill.

     
    I think I have a recipe for buttered roadkill if you can't find one! 
    #24
    mar52
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/09 19:36:24 (permalink)
    I'm one who likes that our 7-11's have roller grills. 
     
    I just never know I want that hot dog until I see it there, rolling in its own grease.  They're not bad in a pinch.
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    edwmax
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/10 10:15:26 (permalink)
    Overall the roller grill has gotten a bad rap due to 'in-attention' during cooking (gas station & convenience stores); or smaller size (heat output or capacity) being compared to 'high-heat' flat grilles.
     
    Properly sized for output capacity and speed, the roller grill should be able to meet the needs of a Vendor.  With proper attention of the cook, a dog made on the roller grill will tasted the same as one made on a flat top grill using the same brand dog & bun.  Above post by John Fox verifies this.
     
    There is an apparatus to lay over a flat top grill and turn it into a roller grill.  However, it limits the use of the grill for other foods.  ... At times a Vendor will ask about the possibility of using a roller grill on a hotdog cart.  Due to limited space and the electrical requirements of the roller grill, it is not a good application.  But, it's use is not impossible on the Cart.
     
    So the stigma of the roller grill is due to improper use and in-attention of the cook!
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    John Fox
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/10 15:19:10 (permalink)
    Maybe the stigma of the roller grill is due in large part to improper use and non attention. But you can't get around the fact that it is made for skinless franks and it cannot give the char and flavor of a grill or griddle.
     
    It may meet the needs of the vendor, but I prefer a natural casing frank with char. Yes, a dog prepared on a roller grill can be "not bad", but only if it is given the proper attention and cooked perfectly. I only recommended the place (which uses a roller grill) because the chili was a standout, the brand was a top quality frank, and it was prepared as good as you can with a roller grill. Without the chili, I would never have recommended this place even though the plain dog "ain't bad."
     
    As I said earlier if you take a skinless Nathan's and prepare it perfectly on a roller grill, it can still never compare to a natural casing Nathan's on a griddle. Or even another skinless frank on a griddle.
    #27
    BackRhodes
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    Re:Roller Grills - Why the stigma? 2011/09/12 19:58:48 (permalink)
    edwmax         With proper attention of the cook, a dog made on the roller grill will tasted the same as one made on a flat top grill using the same brand dog & bun.  So the stigma of the roller grill is due to improper use and in-attention of the cook!        

     
    Well, does the average pimple faced kid at the quickmart use spray on cooking oil on the rollers, or is it just plopped on...???
     
    I think the grill has more potential to taste different due to at least some kind of cooking oil used on the flat top grill...
    More importantly, besides cooking time and inattention is that more managers of quickmart type places will use the cheapest hot dogs in the western hemisphere...("garbage in, garbage out" also applies to food besides computer code)...
    I suspect some of the "roller dogs" are so inert, so lacking of anything that ever went moo or oink, that they have a half-life to 75 years and glow in the dark...
    #28
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