Greetings to Ellen, LegLace, JoColl and John Fox and all the other Jersey Hot Dog lovers. First, Ellen, that must have been the place --Miami's Coney Island hot dog joint on the 826, after the Palmetto Expressway joined I95. For transplanted Jerseyites(?)who knew their hot dogs, this was the only retail establishment selling real deal.
It was a large rectangular building right on the road, topped with a flashy sign pushing the Coney Island Dogs theme. It had a white wood exterior, reminiscent of the Galloping Hill Inn. But it was more like a porch, all screened, as I recall, with no AC. The long serving counter was on the right, with condiment stands and cheap patio tables and chairs filling the rest of the place.
Thinking back, the place was like a Disneyworld version a NY-NJ hotdog stand--every detail, good or bad, was "just right," almost too real--it had so much "authentic Disney-like ambience" that it seemed like a composite of dozens of places.
It was a living caricature. Too colorful, too bright.
The ketchup and relish spilled over the condiment counter seemed extra bright. Flies swarmed in the screened entry doors as guests of the customers. The staff was impatient and rude. You had better know exactly what you wanted when you reached the front of the line, or you'd soon be playing the fool for everyone behind you.
And I learned the true definition of desperation there. You had to be a desperate man to use the bathroom/mop room combo. The test was walking past unsavory-looking characters hanging around video games. There always seemed be a risk of interrupting a drug deal deal or hooker.
I mention all this to demonstrate the lengths to which a Jersey hot dog fanatic will go for a great dog. First, we can see things through rose-colored glasses--all that matters is a great hot dog.
After raving about the place to my wife and kids, seeing their reaction to shabby reality of the place tore the glasses right off my face. Then when the kids refused to try natural casing hot dogs and insisted on burgers, it added to the fun. And my wife is not a big hot dog fan either.
So the truth came out. I realized it was all for me. We drove hours to Miami for me to enjoy my hot dogs. I gained self-enlightenment. And my family learned something, as well. That was probably 25 years ago. From that day forward, they learned as did I, that nothing will stand between me and a great hot dog.
Amazingly, that excellent Coney Island stand served yellow mustard. A travesty. Perhaps a fatal flaw that brought them down a quarter-century later?
Now,for LegLace, a few thoughts. If you're looking for the Jersey shore crowd in Florida as a fan base of a Schickhaus hot dogs, you won't find them in Tampa. Tampa is full of midwesterners from Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and they love their Vienna hot dogs piled high with all the scrapings from the garbage can. They wouldn't know a good hot dog if it bit them.
If you want the Jersey crowd, they migrated to Palm Beach County long ago. It was said that 30% of Palm Beach County was made up of former Jersey residents. Even so, many of them were retirees who moved to Boca Raton and Singer Island, or just bought a condo to spend the winters. Even if they were once avid hot dog fans, dahling, many couldn't or wouldn't touch a hot dog today--and certainly not from a truck. So you are starting out cold. Me and a few others, like JoColl, will chomp down your Schickhauses with undbrideled joy--but don't count on the troops welcoming you with flowers.
JoColl, do you know a place here where they serve Jersey dogs?
Finally, John. The greatest hot dog place I remeber was Haps'n'Kaps not Zaps'n'Kaps. I wish I knew what they served. A friend said they serve Best garlic dogs. The ones I saw in the store were skinless and too big around. I'm sure they make them natural casing--do they make them a 3/4" size maybe 8 to 10 inches long? Second, of all these great brands you mention, did I read somewhere in this forum that if they are frozen, they all lose the flavor amd oomph?
Glad to hear from all doggers.