Traditional or trendy?

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John Fox
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2010/05/17 06:33:12 (permalink)

Traditional or trendy?

Do you prefer a hot dog with little or no toppings? Or do you like one of the trendy new "haute dogs"? I fall into the traditional camp preferring just mustard about 90% of the time. I do enjoy an Italian Hot Dog (which is really more of a sandwich) and a Texas Weiner from time to time. And I did have a few Chicago dogs when there was a place near me serving an authentic one. These styles despite the toppings, are considered traditional since they've been around a long time and are regional specialties. In my opinion the focus should be on the actual frank, it's casing, flavor, size, and method of preparation. Everything else is secondary.  A hot dog was meant to be a simple unpretentious food, not a casserole on a bun. When I hear the term "haute dog" the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I feel that most toppings take away from, rather than enhance the hot dog. A great dog like the Syd's dog served at Jimmy Buff's, Bubba's, and the Garage in N.J. needs nothing more than mustard. Maybe kraut. Anything else lessens this unique dog.
 
But that's just my opinion. Many disagree. There are many different styles of dogs mentioned and discussed on Serious Eats as well as on this site. Two posts discussing this topic are here:
 
http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/06/the-best-new-nyc-hot-dogs-crifi-dogs-dbgb-fatty-crab-shake-shack-corn-dogs.html
 
http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2009/12/when-hip-has-ruined-your-food.html
 
I started the second discussion. The toppings and combinations offerred today are so numerous that I can't mention them all. Reputable chefs are even getting in on it. Do you like any of these creations? Do you think this trend will last or fade away? I don't know, but I feel the old places serving a traditional, quality dog will be around forever. What do you think?
#1

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    RC51Mike
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 07:18:33 (permalink)
    I'm with you.  I want to taste a good dog.  It shouldn't simply be a vector for condiments loaded on.  At most, mustard and onions.  When in Chicago, I get a Chicago dog their way because that is the local custom but wouldn't order one around here.
    #2
    BillyB
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 07:24:06 (permalink)
    I agree John, but then again, we grew up with a limited amount of topping. Mustard, relish, onions, chili, kraut, are all I remember be offered for many years. The old hot dogs at Yankee stadium were as basic as they could be. IMHO,The old way has worked for me so far, I'll stick to the basics, until proven wrong.................Billyb
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    David_NYC
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 08:25:09 (permalink)
    I think of 'haute' dogs as a different food from hot dog stand franks, just as I consider pizzeria pizza and frozen pizza as two different foods.

    I prefer hot dogs with just a few toppings. Maybe one or two of these new styles will remain as classics, but I expect most will just fade away. I have this theory that the economy is responsible for these 'haute' dogs. When it came time to create some new menu items, chefs had to keep an eye on cost, as people had less money to dine out. A frank is relatively inexpensive. But when served at a full service restaurant, these haute dogs can command a surprisingly high price.
    #4
    John Fox
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 09:00:57 (permalink)
    I think that a lot of newer places introduce these dogs in an effort to stand out or be different since there are so many established hot dog joints. I'm referring to hot dog stands or establishments serving primarily hot dogs, not fancy restaurants like Daniel Boulud in New York.

    People like what they like and will eat what they want which is fine with me. What I don't like is when I read a post or review of a place I haven't gone to and all kinds of information is given about the toppings and combinations, but little if any is given about the actual frankfurter. And this includes professional food writers. There could be this big wordy review and the writer fails to mention the brand of frank or where it comes from, whether or not it has a casing, if it's beef, pork, or a combination; size, and how it's prepared. I like to know if I'm eating a kosher or German style dog; if it's got a casing, and if it's grilled, deep fried, prepared in water, etc. At a minimum. I know a lot of places want to keep the brand or source of the frank a secret, but most reviewers don't ask or even care. I make it a point to question it since I might want to go and sample a dog there.

    A good example can be found here:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/707554?tag=boards;topic-707554

    You can also see that the place reviewed goes overboard when it comes to toppings. I'm sure even "haute dog" lovers will agree.
    #5
    dasolutionsinc
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 10:48:11 (permalink)
    When I go for a hot dog I always want to taste the dog and the casing so I go with just mustard. I also like to try the chili so I get a 2nd dog with chili. Everything else you can't taste the dog. But people love the toppings and that sells right now.
    #6
    John Fox
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 12:22:19 (permalink)
    If I want to sample the chili at a place I've never been to, I ask for mustard on the whole dog, but chili on half. This way I can judge the quality of the dog first before sampling the chili.

    In most areas of the country it seems that people aren't concerned with the brand of dog they're eating. To them a hot dog is just a hot dog and what makes a good one is the toppings. Recently there was much press given to which specialty dog would be served at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. No one writing or originally posting about this made any mention of the particular frank, which turns out to be a cheap low quality hot dog. Only when it was brought up by people reading the article or post was it addressed. Down south it's a regional thing. The frankfurter is viewed as a holder for the chili and slaw.

    To those that are real hot dog enthusiasts and/or live in areas (New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Connecticut for example) that have a true hot dog culture, does the brand and type of dog seem to be of concern. And even then a lot of people seek out different combinations. A popular place in New Jersey that served a top quality dog also played around with weird topping combinations. One dog, called the Asian Dog, was topped with sambal, peanut butter, teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and scallions. I can't see the appeal but many liked it.
    #7
    dasolutionsinc
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 12:46:49 (permalink)
    John Fox

    If I want to sample the chili at a place I've never been to, I ask for mustard on the whole dog, but chili on half. This way I can judge the quality of the dog first before sampling the chili.

    In most areas of the country it seems that people aren't concerned with the brand of dog they're eating. To them a hot dog is just a hot dog and what makes a good one is the toppings. Recently there was much press given to which specialty dog would be served at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. No one writing or originally posting about this made any mention of the particular frank, which turns out to be a cheap low quality hot dog. Only when it was brought up by people reading the article or post was it addressed. Down south it's a regional thing. The frankfurter is viewed as a holder for the chili and slaw.

    To those that are real hot dog enthusiasts and/or live in areas (New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Connecticut for example) that have a true hot dog culture, does the brand and type of dog seem to be of concern. And even then a lot of people seek out different combinations. A popular place in New Jersey that served a top quality dog also played around with weird topping combinations. One dog, called the Asian Dog, was topped with sambal, peanut butter, teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and scallions. I can't see the appeal but many liked it.


    You know John when I lived in NJ I always looked at the brand of dog. To me the dog and bun was very important. These days people like the crazy toppings. With these toppings you can't taste the dog that much so some places like Citizens Bank Park use cheap dogs. It's like BBQ places that mask the bad taste of meat with a ton of BBQ sauce.
    #8
    John Fox
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 13:03:23 (permalink)
    Yes, but a lot of places use a very good dog and offer crazy toppings. Again it's just my opinion, but I don't think a quality dog needs a lot of stuff interfering with the frank. And a lousy frank is lousy no matter what you put on it.

    A quote from Roadfooder machineman that appeared on another thread:

    "My overall beef with hot dogs that focus on toppings as the way to define themselves is that its missing the point of having a good hot dog that features the dog itself.  Now, Chicago-style ingredients to come together well for a nice flavor profile... But I'd rather have a quality dog, featured by cooking it over a real charcoal grill and few/light basic toppings. 

    I truly believe not many folks have not yet learned to appreciate a good dog, cooked the right way."

    That's how many of us feel.

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    BillyB
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 13:16:26 (permalink)
    John, I grew up in Bridgeport, CT we had Hot dog stands. My wife is from Washington state and never saw a hot dog stand, everything was Burger joints. Hot Dogs in Washington, OR, ID, Ut, and many other states, know nothing about quality dogs. I still say, the best of the best, comes out of the East Coast. I always want quality and flavor, always got it there. I should order another slab of Pastarmi from the Carnegie deli.................Billyb
    #10
    John Fox
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 13:23:24 (permalink)
    I agree. The highest quality dogs for the most part come from the East. And Connecticut is a great state for hot dogs. I've been there several times for the sole purpose of sampling their dogs. They also like em deep fried in the southern part of the state.

    Never had pastrami from the Carnegie deli. Only Katz's. Hard to imagine pastrami better than Katz's.
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    dasolutionsinc
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 13:32:43 (permalink)
    John Fox

    I agree. The highest quality dogs for the most part come from the East. And Connecticut is a great state for hot dogs. I've been there several times for the sole purpose of sampling their dogs. They also like em deep fried in the southern part of the state.

    Never had pastrami from the Carnegie deli. Only Katz's. Hard to imagine pastrami better than Katz's.


    I have been to both katz and Carnegie deli and both have amazing pastrami. Man I do miss great deli's. Have not found a good one yet out in the west coast.
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    enginecapt
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 13:46:07 (permalink)
    I'm very picky. Except for chili dogs, I don't eat hot dogs unless I make them myself.  The frank absolutely has to be Nathan's, it has to be grilled or fried in bacon grease until charred, and the bun has to be toasted dark brown in that same pan. I've totally given up on mustard as a condiment. Too overpowering and vinegary, and definitely tastes nasty on a chili dog.

    My toppings are as follows:

    1. Nothing
    2. Chili and raw onions
    3. Green olive tapenade and raw onions
    4. Marinara sauce and raw onions

    I like to keep it simple. Those Chicago dogs that have been "dragged through the garden" are a culinary abomination to my tastes. Notice I said "to my tastes". Not trying to start a war here.

    post edited by enginecapt - 2010/05/17 13:47:16
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    badbyron722
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 13:46:42 (permalink)
    It all depends on my mood.My favorite is what we call in the South all the way,mustard,chilli,& onions.I also like just mustard and slaw.As far as plain,occasionally I'll have just a plain dog,but its usually kind of bland.I agree with all that the brand of the dog has a lot to do with how much i will like it.
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    MiamiDon
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 16:42:51 (permalink)
    Anything except for mustard and sauerkraut (traditional German accompaniments to sausages) was "new and trendy" at one time.  Chili, greek chili-style sauce, cole slaw, NYC red onion sauce, and certainly the salad that is put on hot dogs in Chicago (and I like a Chicago dog).  And the guys who started slapping wieners in a bun and calling it a hot dog certainly didn't use the second-most popular topping, ketchup, on their hot dogs.

    How long does it take to be traditional?  In Arizona they've been making Sonoran hot dogs for at least 40 years: a bacon-wrapped hot dog shoved into a soft Mexican roll topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeno sauce, cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.  They usually come with a roasted chili on the side – sometimes even with roasted green onions.  I've never had one, but more than one Roadfooder likes them.

    The overwhelming majority of hot dog shops here are Latin American.  The Colombians prefer hot dogs like those that are traditional in Colombia, and they are opening shops here to sell them.  In Colombia they don’t grill the hotdogs, they boil them and the toppings include cole slaw, pineapple sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and potato chips.

    I tried a latin dog (don't ask me what country) with thousand-island dressing, melted mozzarella, bacon, pineapple and potato chips.  I won't have a second one.

    I like "traditional" gringo northeastern hot dogs, but I found that a reuben dog works great - thousand island, sauerkraut and swiss go as well with a hot dog as they do with corned beef.  I've also had restaurant dogs with bacon, grilled onions, BBQ sauce and melted cheddar.  That was great too.

    I think I'm just trying to say that the hot dog world is not static, whether we like it or not.
    #15
    John Fox
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 16:51:29 (permalink)
    Wow, I didn't know Sonoron hot dogs have been around for 40 years!

    Amazing Hot Dog (RIP) was a place that had perhaps the most topping combinations I've seen at a hot dog joint. They served a quality natural casing beef dog that I usually ordered with just mustard. They did have a good chili that I had on my dog occasionally. But the one loaded dog that I actually liked was their Reuben dog. It came with Swiss cheese, Sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and Caraway Seeds topped with paper thin Hot Dog shavings.
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    MiamiDon
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 17:03:46 (permalink)
    Oh, yeah, caraway seeds - good idea.  It would simulate the seeds on seeded rye.  Too bad about Amazing.  I've read more than one post bemoaning the closing.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 17:09:33 (permalink)
    I'll stick with the hotdogs I grew up with in Connecticut -- dark mustard, relish (at a couple of places a mixture of mustard and relish) and warm sauerkraut, and sometimes chopped raw onions.
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    johnlockedema
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/17 21:08:49 (permalink)
    Fried onions (not the tomatoey type) and brown mustard for me, although I'll indulge in a Texas Weiner once in a while.  Rutts Hutt is the only place I'll do with a little relish.
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    John Fox
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/18 06:08:41 (permalink)
    For years I only had mustard on my dogs at Rutts Hut. I don't really like relish but one day one of the owners convinced me to try some claiming it's like no other. He was right. It's unique and a perfect complement to their dogs. It does contain mustard.
    #20
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/18 12:04:08 (permalink)
    Be careful John! The longest journey began with a single step.

    I do agree that a great dog, like a great steak, cooked the right way... needs needs little else.

    Well put Don! The hot dog, like many other things, is evolving.

    My current reacuring craving is a Rueben Dog.

    An interesting story, I hope, about my six Grandkid's and their friends, hot dog journeys. But please keep in mind that in Texas the only hot dog traditions are a charcoal griled Oscer Myer, or Ball Park, w/ a charcoal toasted bun, and yellow mustard, and maybe topped w/ some, can on the fire heated, Wolf Brand Chili.

    OK, tha Zillas started out w/ a bland store bought dog. Mustard... naa. Ketchup they would try. One bite of a good quality dog and they would turn up their noses. As time went on yellow mustard became a topping of choice. Then came sweet relish w/ yellow mustard. Next came dill relish. Turkey dogs made a showing. Slowly came a taste for a better quality dog. Then spicy brown, and even dejon mustard, was a useable option. Un toasted bread was 1st, then toasted, then came a lightly toasted HD bun. Now, some of my Zillas are fixin to turn 22. Flour tortillas have been the IN wrapping for some time. Microwaved tortillas came 1st. Now... heated in a pan w/ butter, until kinda crispy, is a favorite.

    Many now like the spicy dog shaped sausages, andouille, and hot links. Jalapeno / cheese sausage is a current trend. Toppings include but are not limited to... salsa, mayo, mayo w/ salsa, mayo w/ relish, jalapeno mayo, hot sauce, mayo and hot sauce, all types of mustard, mustard w/hot sauce, ketchip w/jalapeno, and ketchup w/ hot sauce. Something new pops up on almost every visit.

    The 3 GreatZillas dog of choice is for now a small JennyO turkey dog w/ ketchup on lightly toasted wheat bread. Watch the young kidos closely while they eat a hot dog though!

    A natural casing dog, Boarshead is all that is easy to find around here. has yet to take hold w/ my Zillas. Can you make a guess why? But... who knows what tha future may bring???

    Maybe these kids are a reflection the way things evolve for the rest of us???
    Joe
    post edited by PapaJoe8 - 2010/05/18 12:16:52
    #21
    DPuro329
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/22 14:25:52 (permalink)
    I'm a fan of traditional Northeast dogs and toppings, although I do enjoy a chili slaw dog from time to time. I tried the dog with cream cheese at Amazing Hot Dogs (RIP) once, it was odd and although I'm glad I tried it I won't be putting cream cheese on my hot dogs again. I like to think I'm opden minded and a traditionalist at the same time.
     
    Dave
    #22
    leethebard
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    Re:Traditional or trendy? 2010/05/22 15:18:42 (permalink)
    Being lucky enough to be in the hot dog central area of the U.S., I prefer to taste the flavor of the hot dog, not have it overwhelmed by additives. When the dog's flavor is masked or even lost in a sea of toppings,why bother. Save the dog,leave it out, and just eat the toppings...probably no difference....That said, I agree with John (as Usual),,,some dog's served are more a sandwich...I love a good Italian hot dog and love to make them at home,,,the dog's flavor and quality still shine through....When we went to Super Dooper Weenie in Connecticut, it was fun trying 3-4 of their dog "styles", but they're a "sandwich"  more like a sub...sometimes the coldcut flavor is lost in a sub because of the toppings...still it's tasty...So if I'm eating a quality dog, just the dog and mustard or a little quality relish...cheap dog. pile on the toppimgs!!!!
    #23
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