RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs
Hank's Franks is still there. I passed by it a few weeks ago on my way home from Attilio's Kitchen. I was there 2 summers ago and liked the dogs. Sabrett dirty water dogs that were tasty and hot although very small at 12 to a lb. I think I liked the chili. My review is on the gourmetchilidog.com or in the archives here from when I went with the S.W.A.T. Team. Very fast service as there was a line. They opened in 1959 and are still family owned.
Hirams is alive and well. They must be getting a lot of customers who frequented Callahan's. Baah Ben, you probably remember the old owner, Joe Barnao. He sold the place a few years ago to 2 of the guys who worked for him. Hirams opened in 1928 while Callahan's opened in the early 1940's. The 2 guys who bought it made a few small changes. One was to add a chili sauce to the menu. It's not a Texas Weiner type sauce like Libby's or the Hot Grill, but more of a spicy, hot chili similar to Father & Son in Linden. I've been back to Hiram's 2 or 3 times since we went there as a team 2 summers ago. Hirams took first place in the voting for best chili dog. It didn't place top 3 on my scorecard since it's a little spicy for my taste, but it does go well with the dogs. We judged dogs in 5 categories (grilled, boiled, fried, Italian style, and chili) and at the end were asked for our personal favorite dog overall of the entire summer. We went to 87 places and sampled over 100 different dogs since many places served more than one type of dog.
Out of 8 panelists, 5 chose Syd's, one chose Tony's truck, one chose Rutt's Hut, and one chose Hirams. Hiram's uses the Thumann's special dog for deep frying. It is made in varying sizes, but the same recipe dog is used by many places including Rutt's, Hiram's, Libby's, Goffle Grill, Pappy's, and others. Most use an 8 to a lb dog. Hiram's is 7 to a lb and a bit thicker than the dog at Rutt's. Since it is the same recipe, it tastes similar. I like this particular dog well done, so at Rutt's I ask for a weller. At Hiram's it doesn't come well done unless you request it. In Hiram's speak you ask for one "well". One other thing they do at Hiram's is to toast the bun. This isn't done at Rutt's or Libby's.
Hiram's has green relish and the usual assortment of condiments as well as burgers, fries, and beer. This dog compares favorably with Rutt's if you request it "well". I like the thicker size better than the Rutt's dog and the toasted bun is better as well. I love the relish at Rutt's better than any other relish. But if I was having just a plain dog with mustard, I would give Hiram's a slight edge ove Rutt's due to size and bun. I go to Rutt's more often simply because it is much, much closer to where I live.
Another interesting thing about Hiram's. They have one beer on tap (Michelob) and several brands of bottled beer. Last time I went was with the members of the S.W.A.T. Team. We enjoyed beers and dogs. A pint of Michelob was under $2.00; I think $1.50, which is a very good value. A friend had a bottle of Miller for around $4.00. She had less beer (12 oz to 16) and paid more for it. And Michelob is a much better beer than Miller.
Hiram's has a great atmosphere; one of the best for a hot dog joint. That in itself is not enough to entice me to go as Hot Dog Johnny's also is great for atmosphere, but the dogs are mediocre. And you can't taste atmosphere. But Hiram's has very good dogs if you like the milder, deep fried type, inexpensive beer on tap, and a great atmosphere. If it was closer to me, I'd go all the time.