Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hot Dogs Always Trying to Top Each Other

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hot Dogs Always Trying to Top Each Other

Article excerpt

For quite some time it appeared that hot dogs were losing favor in the United States to tacos, pizza, burgers and fried chicken. Then, over the past few years, the ever-so-adaptable sausage started to make inroads with the latest generation by serving as a vessel for creative toppings such as kimchi, cheese curds and foie gras. This was hammered home to me when, a couple of weeks ago, I got a telephone call from my youngest daughter, an aspiring actress in New York City, passing on with exuberance her adventures with a hot dog extraordinaire -- a bockwurst made from veal and pork to be exact -- from a cart on the city's West Side.

This year, the "encased meat" has been enshrined in at least two books that found their way to me: "Hot Doug's: The Book" (Agate Midway, July 2013, $24.95), a history of Hot Doug's sausage emporium in Chicago, and "Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America" (AltaMira Press, 2012, $40) the history of the frankfurter in America that also dishes up lore, recipes, personalities and lots of photographs.

I'd wanted to visit Hot Doug's on a trip to Chicago, but it was closed, so Sherri Panza and I had to be content to buy a real dog, instead.

For us, Hot Dog Month is every month. On a recent trip to Troy, N.Y., for a reunion of old staffers from the Times Record, we took the chance to seek out the tiny dogs served with Greek sauce that so intrigued me in the 1970s that I stopped by a minimum of three times each week. This time around, with no children and a few extra hours, we discovered a location not too far from the Albany airport and my wife's friend's home.

En route to lunch, we stopped for a few dogs. Perhaps my palate changed, but I thought the sauce lacked a certain pungency of cloves and allspice. But the company has returned to using a lighter beef- pork mix made by the original sausage-maker, Hembold, and only uses the all-beef Sabrett for full-size dogs, which the shop didn't carry 30 years ago. …

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