Fancy franks

"Eat your Coney Island," says Ryan O'Neal to then-10-year-old Tatum O'Neal in the bittersweet 1973 comedy Paper Moon, itself set during the Great Depression.  Coney Island?  I thought.  What's he talking about?  That's a hot dog, obviously.   But I guess it was a bit of period dialogue, because the American love affair with the hot dog really did start at Coney Island - where, according to some accounts, a German immigrant sold sausages in buns.

Regardless of where it began, that relationship has taken a wild new turn this summer, no doubt thanks to the blend of street and rococo brought to us by food trucks nationwide.  You could say that wasabi dogs and waffle dogs were simply bound to happen at some point after corn dogs and chili dogs.  But I doubt that a century ago anyone could have foreseen the Not-So-Plain-Jane featured in Haute Dogs, whose ingredients are Wagyu beef, Charroux mustard, a brioche bun, and edible gold leaf flakes (optional). 

Slightly less hubristic  dogs can be found in Wieners Gone Wild, which devotes a more attention to the go-withs and is the place to turn for a "Hushed Puppy" or a "Phyllo Fido" or a "Salty Dog" (or a bad pun).

I get a certain joy from these novelty books, which help to define the limits of our food folly.  But personally, I'm a traditionalist as far as hot dogs go.  I grew up in the waning days of the last Nedick's stand, in the Times Square subway station.  The dogs there weren't great, but the ones at the Gray's Papaya on Broadway were, and so were the ones at the original Nathan's on Coney Island (and don't get me started on those Nathan's waffle fries!)  I love the pure snap of blistered skin on an all-beef dog, the golden crust of a toasted bun.  Maybe a little grainy mustard.

The rest, as far as I'm concerned, just gets in the way. 

2 Comments

  • Rinshin  on  5/13/2014 at 5:13 PM

    I've tried different ways too, but I like mine simply too just chopped onion and pickles with yellow mustard. Now the buns for me has to be steamed though LOL.

  • boardingace  on  5/13/2014 at 10:13 PM

    I'm a traditionalist too - I wouldn't be curious enough to make the variations myself. But at a hotdog stand or a friend's house, I would love to give some of the variations a try :)

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