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A Taste of Home As Entire Nation is Captivated by Hot Dog Month
I guess it’s a stretch (complete stretch, strains credulity) to say that America is captivated by National Hot Dog Month.
But I am, and since my birthday is this week at the very start of this time of revelry, my gift to myself was delivered and I’m giddy. I ordered myself some hot dogs.
I’ve been missing my favorite hot dogs in all the world from Gray’s Papaya in New York. The entire experience of going there, the thin, tasty, snappy dogs in a soft bun, the guys and gals behind the counter, the unfussy chaos of the place— I loved all of it.
I wanted to do one of those nice ‘unboxing’ reveal videos when the package arrived, but I’m too much of a klutz.
So here’s a photo of the box with the dogs, the buns, a bottle of Gulden’s Mustard, sauerkraut and tomato-onion relish (a New York thing) sitting on my kitchen counter, coveted by all who gaze upon it.
Since it’s almost the Fourth of July in the US, I also want to shout-out another of my favorites, Nathan’s Famous, who have sponsored a hot dog eating contest since the 1970’s on the Fourth. It’s not my thing, but you do you, competitive hot dog eaters!
Founded in 1916 by Nathan Handwerker and his wife Ada, Surf Avenue in Coney Island would never be the same. I was born in Brooklyn, so this is a sentimental favorite.
In the “Win, Place, Show” of my own personal hot dog competition, third place goes to Sabrett, the beloved “dirty water dogs” of the on-every-corner New York City carts that I miss so much. The water is not actually dirty, and here’s a link to tell you what’s what with the name and the dogs.
Meanwhile, in Chicago
Being a New Yorker who has lived in Chicago for seven years, I get a kick out of all the supposed NEW YORK vs CHICAGO rivalries.
But there was a true and consequential rivalry back in 1890 when Chicago and New York were competing to be awarded host city for the 1893 World’s Fair.
Among the many food stops along the Midway at the Fair was “Old Vienna”. Emil Reichel and Samuel Ladany, Austrian-Hungarian immigrants, sold sausages there.
They stayed in Chicago after the fair and opened the Vienna Sausage Company, now Vienna Beef, home of the original Chicago hot dog, and whose umbrellas are as colorful and recognizable as Sabrett’s are in New York.
There’s a great article about the history that I’ve linked to HERE including all of the things that make a Chicago Dog a Chicago Dog.
There is one unbreakable rule in Chicago concerning Hot Dogs. Don’t you dare put Ketchup on them.
And if you visit Chicago, you must go to Superdawg, founded in 1948. I’ve linked to the history HERE.
Also, click on the image below, it’s a very fun Instagram post, make sure your volume is up.
My friend, food writerwrote a great post about hot dogs last year, including the Chicago dog, so take a peek.
My nephew and my brother came over for lunch yesterday, so of course I made them Gray’s Papaya hot dogs. They were, as expected, delicious.
My nephew is an intern for a local baseball league, so it reminded me just how great it is to have a hot dog sitting in the stands at the park.
Especially when you’re a kid.
Thanks for allowing me to indulge my life-long love of hot dogs here. Whatever you and your friends and family are eating this weekend, I hope you love it.
Speaking of loving it, if you love New York, and if you also love laughing and great writing, may I recommend’s ? I wait for it to hit my inbox every Monday to see what’s going on in NYC via Anne’s hilarious lens. A real treat.
Birthday Special 🥳
As part of my birthday celebration, for one week I’m offering yearly subscriptions for $35 (until midnight, July 8th) so you can get in on all that’s happening with the book I’m writing about the 1893 World’s Fair, Bertha Palmer, Chicago and the book process itself. Monthly subscriptions are also available at $5 per month.
I had the incredible experience last week of being able to view 150 Glass Lantern Slides at The Newberry Library. These slides, which are from 1893, gave me a real jolt—just handling them made me feel a connection to that time. I’ll be writing about the Architects of the Fair in the July post for premium subscribers, so I hope you’ll subscribe and join me.
See you soon.