Traditional recipes

LA's Pink’s: the Ultimate Hot Dog Stand

LA's Pink’s: the Ultimate Hot Dog Stand

Is there anything about Pink’s that hasn’t been said? Hard to imagine. After all, there’s a perpetual line, the walls are covered with autographed photos of celebrities, and it has been serving customers since Paul Pink started his pushcart in 1939. It has been lauded by no less than R.W. Apple Jr. and Ruth Reichl. But Pink’s is a pilgrimage, so this is more celebration than revelation.

Clockwise from top: a dog with relish, and a Chili Cheese Dog, a dog with cheese and a dog with a Mushroom Swiss Dog, and a dog with mustard and a Chicago Polish Dog.

A few quick facts. Pink's sells up to 2,000 dogs a day. They’re all-beef, and they’ve been sourced from Hoffy since Pink’s very beginnings, when according to the Times, Betty and Paul Pink, bought a portable hot dog cart “with $50 in borrowed money, running it on an extension cord to a hardware store one block away.” Pink’s moved into the small building it occupies now in 1946. It’s the same spot where the cart was, in what was then "the country." There are now other locations in San Diego, Las Vegas, and at LAX, the only location that serves the LAX International Dog (a nine-inch dog with three slices of bacon, sauerkraut, shredded cheese, and chopped tomatoes).

The hot dogs “have a natural casing that makes them snap when you bite into them,” declares Pink’s website. True, and there are a lot to choose from. For the tentative, the most famous dog, the dog to start with, is the chili dog (mustard, chili and onions), whose chili recipe Betty Pink devised. It’s a very finely ground meat, more sauce than chunk, and they know how to pour it generously. From there, it just gets better. It’s difficult to choose just one from a menu that includes at least 35 different combinations.

America the Beautiful: 12” Jalapeno Dog, Pastrami, Bacon, Lettuce, and Chopped Tomatoes.

The coleslaw, guacamole, and Polish dogs round out a cast of basic players. More interesting are the specials: the bacon burrito, the giant 12” jalapeño, the pastrami burrito, and the "America the Beautiful" dogs. But, the most expensive, and perhaps the most epic, is the "Three Dog Night" ($7.15): three hot dogs wrapped in a giant tortilla, with three slices of cheese, three slices of bacon, chili, and onions. To paraphrase, ‘Well I never been to heaven, but I been to Pink’s Hot Dogs stand.’

The top five sellers: the "Stretch Chili Cheese" (10”), bacon chili cheese, mild Polish, spicy Polish, and the Martha Stewart (“It’s a good thing,” the menu insists). The bacon chili cheese dog is topped with three strips of bacon, tomatoes, and cheese. The bun is warm and soft, the dog cracks as you bite, it’s wet with salty, spicy chili, and sliced cheese, and hey, those tomatoes practically make it a salad.

“Pink’s!” said a pretentious diner at Umami Burger, who was far too cool for his pink tie and jeans. “That’s where the douchebags go to pretend they know about hot dogs.”

Yes, even the haters define themselves by Pink’s.

Click here for a Hot Dog Q&A with owner Richard Pink.

About Pink’s

Pink’s Hot Dogs, Inc., a Hollywood landmark since 1939, this hot dog stand serves over 2000 hot dogs and 200 hamburgers a day. Pink’s was started in 1939 by Richard’s parents, Paul and Betty Pink, with a pushcart they purchased for $50, which money they borrowed from Betty’s mother. The land on which the pushcart stood was leased by Paul and Betty for $15 per month. Hot dogs at that time were 10 cents and cokes were a nickel. Pink’s offered curb service, and was lucky to sell 100 hot dogs a day.

In 1941, the landlord raised their rent from $15 to $25 per month, a 67% increase, and Paul and Betty were forced to either give up or find a way to acquire the property. Paul and Betty, with little collateral but lots of conviction in the potential success of their hot dog stand, convinced Bank of America to loan them $4,000 to purchase the land, which fortunately the landlord was willing to sell. They added a cover to the pushcart, allowing them to also grill hamburgers, and it remained until 1946. The menu was simple: A chili dog and a hamburger. The price of the hot dog in 1946 was 25 cents.

At that time, Paul and Betty scraped together enough savings to build the small hot dog stand building that sits near the corner of La Brea and Melrose today. The location included parking for about 25 cars and eventually the indoor and patio seating expanded to accommodate 80 customers.

Paul & Betty also were raising two children, Beverly and Richard. In order to afford living expenses, it was necessary for Paul and Betty to find another source of income so they opened in 1958 a flower store next door to Pink’s Hot Dog stand. The flower store thrived for 10 years due to the talent of Betty in the design of flower arrangements, which she learned working part time for her brother, a florist, while she was also running Pink’s with Paul.

Paul and Betty operated the hot dog stand, starting with 4 employees and expanding over time to 10 and 20 and now Pink’s has a staff of about 30 employees. In 1985 at the age of 73 and 75, Paul and Betty retired. At that point, Richard, his wife, Gloria, and sister, Beverly, took over the operation of Pink’s. Since that time, the family has created over 35 combinations of hot dogs and a dozen varieties of hamburgers to satisfy the variety of tastes of its patrons. Pink’s, located near major Hollywood studios like Paramount, Universal and Disney started to attract upcoming and established movie and TV stars. Pink’s celebrity wall of fame in the dining room started as a place for aspiring actors to hang their photos to be discovered by producers and directors who were known to dine at Pink’s. Today, Pink’s dining room is filled with over 200 photos of celebrities with signed endorsements of their enjoyment of Pinks Hot Dogs.

Due to Pink’s unique menu, its historic age for an LA restaurant (78 years) and its celebrity patrons, it has now been featured in movies, TV shows, the food channel, the travel channel and travel books. As the Pink’s name grew, large restaurant operators came to the family wanting to license the Pink’s name and products in various amusement parks, hotels, arenas and county fairs. Pink’s now has 15 locations including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Ohio, Connecticut, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles County Fairs, Hawaii and the Philippines. Pink’s also has an active catering business.

Pinks attributes its longevity and its success to the tastiness of its hot dogs, which snap when you bite into them, its never ending hot dog menu combinations, its loyal long-term staff of over 30, many of whom have been with Pink’s for over ten years, its unique 1946 open kitchen curb side stand and relaxed dining room and patio seating, its Hollywood location and atmosphere, its appearances nationwide in movies and TV and its commitment to the community through its chili dogs for charity program. Pink’s is often referred to as “A Hollywood Legend Since 1939” but the Pink family likes to say “We are the little hot dog stand that could.”

Ultimate Hot Dog Party

You won't need a steamer or a train or a hot air balloon to travel the globe this summer. Just grab some hot dogs and some buns and check out our international toppings guide, below. We'll take you "Around the World in 80 dogs"—from England (cheddar and cider-braised leeks) to Morocco (harissa-caramelized onions and preserved-lemon relish), then to India (red-onion raita and dal) and beyond. There may even be some variations you have not thought of. Hippie dog, anyone? Or how about a tasty pseudo banh mi?

Whichever toppings you choose, you'll want to begin with a great dog. While testing these recipes, the Bon Appétit food editors ate a lot of franks. Their favorites? High up on the list is that supermarket staple, the Hebrew National Beef Frank. Also making the cut: Niman Ranch Uncured All-Beef Fearless Franks, Let's Be Frank Uncured Beef Franks, and Irving's Famous Red-Hot Chicago-Style Hot Dogs.

Now that you've got the dogs and the toppings, it's time to get grilling. Sure, you already know how to cook a good hot dog. But recipe developer Andrew Schloss recommends an optional extra step that yields the ultimate hot dog: one that's crisp and blackened on the outside, moist and plump on the inside. Oddly enough, it all starts on the stovetop. Just place your hot dogs in a large saucepan, add enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, remove it from the heat, and let the dogs stand for five minutes. Then you're ready to grill.

The results, plus a few creative toppings, are pretty transporting. So where to next?

17. New York City hot dog

When it comes to popularity, not many hot dogs can compete with those found in New York City. Their hot dogs are known around the world. When you're in the Big Apple, a hot dog cart is always a hop, skip, and a jump away. If you're on the go, grabbing a hot dog for lunch is easy — no matter where your travels take you in the city.

Unfortunately, New York City is hiding a truth about their hot dogs that they don't want the rest of the world to know: their hot dogs are overrated. While that may be sacrilegious for a native New Yorker to even contemplate, outsiders are sure to be underwhelmed if they travel to NYC to eat one of their famous hot dogs.

Truth be told, there's just nothing special about these hot dogs. They come in a normal bun and feature mustard along with either sauerkraut or steamed onions. Yawn.

Happy 4 th of July! To celebrate American Independence Day, we thought we’d do a campfire homage to the Ultimate New York Style Hot Dog! I do love a hot dog when I’m in New York and I’ve tried a few of the best. From Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island to the food carts clustered around Central Park and Times Square.

NYC is arguably the Home of the Hot Dog

Its all about the toppings! New York City is such a melting pot of cuisines and cultures but traditional Hot Dogs stick to the same tried and tested toppings. You will typically see a variety of mustard, ketchup (though true New Yorkers will turn their noses up), sauerkraut, cheese, chilli, fried onions and relish. I’m a massive fan of sauerkraut on my hotdogs and it is super easy to make too, it just takes weeks. If you want that distinctive sour flavour, you can pack a small jar with you.

Bain Maries are used here instead of campfires!

For this 4 th of July feast, we’re preparing the Ultimate New York Style Hot Dog. We are cooking one of my favourite toppings on cast iron over the fire and we’re going to show you how to get even more flavour into your frankfurter. We’re going to make a simple sweet onion relish to top your Dogs with then we’ll finish with a spicy mustard.

Traditionally, New York-style Hot Dogs are made with all-beef Frankfurters. If you’re buying them in a UK supermarket, scan your eyes over the ingredients. Most of our “American-Style” Hot Dogs are primarily made with “mechanically separated chicken”… BOKE! Look for frankfurters which are proper beef or pork. Don’t forget they can be in a few places the fridge, in jars in the store cupboard isle and in Polish food sections.

The Ultimate New York Style Hot Dog ready for assembly!

Hot dogs are boiled in seasoned water until piping hot, probably around six minutes. We’re adding a small tin of beer to our boiling liquid and some peppercorns to add some more flavour. The liquid will be boiling for long enough that there won’t be any alcohol left so this should be safe for children but if you’d rather leave it out then that is fine. Boiling Hot Dogs like this is so easy and actually makes a great meal for Scouts to cook for themselves in large batches. Just make sure you don’t add too many franks that you bring the water temperature down too fast. The New Yorkers may turn their noses up to ketchup, but if you expect a group of Irish or British Scouts to eat these, then you best have a bottle on stand by!

Happy 4th of July!

We hope our friends over the Atlantic have a safe and enjoyable 4 th . Our Ultimate New York Style Hot Dog with Onion Relish and Mustard will hopefully those on this side of the pond feel at home!

Burt Ward, who starred as Robin in the 1960s television show “Batman,” was recognized Tuesday with a hot dog named in his honor at Pink’s Hot Dogs on La Brea Avenue.

Pink’s Hot Dogs dedicated the new Burt (Robin) Ward Hot Dog on Tuesday in honor of the actor who starred as Robin in the 1960s TV show “Batman.” Ward enjoyed the new menu item and was joined by Gloria Pink (left), his wife Tracy Ward, Beverly Pink and Richard Pink. (photo by Edwin Folven)

Ward and his wife Tracy joined Richard, Gloria and Beverly Pink at the iconic stand to debut the new menu item, known as the Burt (Robin) Ward Hot Dog. It’s an all-beef “Batmobile” stretch dog topped with mustard, relish, onions and sauerkraut. Ward sampled the hot dog and proclaimed it was one of the best he ever had.

“It is such an honor,” said Ward, who collaborated with the Pinks on the toppings. “It’s a unique combination that is very tasty. We all know crime fighters have to have nourishment, and Pink’s is the best in L.A.”

“What we have is the ultimate hot dog created for the greatest crime fighters in the world,” Pink said.

The hot dog was created in conjunction with the “Batman ‘66” exhibit, which opened on Jan. 10 at the Hollywood Museum. In addition to the show, the exhibit pays tribute to the late Adam West, who was the other half of the “Dynamic Duo.”

The exhibit displays original costumes and props from the show, which aired from 1966-68. Highlights include a re-creation of Wayne Manor and the Batcave, re-created costumes of the show’s villains such as The Riddler, The Joker, The Penguin and Mr. Freeze, and life-size sculptures of the three women who portrayed Catwoman – Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar. The Batmobile and Batcycle will also be on display. The Hollywood Museum is located at 1660 N. Highland Ave.

The Burt (Robin) Ward Hot Dog, which is $5.60, will be permanently available at Pink’s Hot Dogs. Pink said Ward’s picture will also be added to the collection of celebrity photographs lining the walls at the stand.

Ward said he is a longtime fan of Pink’s Hot Dogs, and the tribute is fitting. He is also a “Canine Crusader” who owns a nonprofit dog food brand called Gentle Giants and runs a rescue dog organization.

“This is also a tribute to my dear friend, Adam West, who loved his fans,” Ward said. “It’s delicious.”

The Complete Guide to New Jersey’s Crazy Hot Dogs, and Where to Find the Best

Hawk Krall

For the month of April, SAVEUR is all about New Jersey, the unsung hero state of American eating. Here’s why. Read all our Jersey Month stories here.

When people think of hot dogs, they usually think of places like Chicago, New York, Detroit, and New England. But true hardcore hot dog aficionados know that New Jersey is the center of the hot dog universe. There you’ll find a richer and more distinct hot dog culture than anywhere else, one informed by proximity to Coney Island (the birthplace of the American hot dog), itinerant pushcart workers who’ve retired from the streets of Manhattan, and a whole set of homegrown hot dog preparations unique to the state. Hot dogs are more than food in New Jersey they’re a whole cuisine.

That means New York-style pushcart dogs, steamed and topped with sauerkraut. Deep fried dogs cooked until the skins rip open. Dogs folded into pizza dough pockets and smothered with fried peppers and potatoes. The options for the hungry hot dog lover are endless: New York-style spicy all-beef blends stuffed in natural casings, for one, or milder beef-and-pork mixtures specifically designed to withstand a deep fryer. Some hot dog preservationists have even rescued obscure frankfurter recipes from closing meat plants for the holdout customers that still demand a specific style of long-lost dog.

These are longstanding traditions some of Jersey’s most celebrated hot dog styles are almost a century old. And in recent years, more and more food writers have taken notice of all the Garden State’s hot dog culture has to offer. But New Jersey still doesn’t get the recognition of, say, New York or Chicago, which is especially surprising considering how much these native traditions still thrive today.

Meet the Expert

I live close to Jersey and have been sampling the state’s offerings for years, but for this project I also enlisted the help of veteran New Jersey hot dog authority John Fox to navigate the complicated world of secret hot dog recipes, micro-regional chili styles, dishonest proprietors, and hot dog etymology.

If you’ve ever read anything about New Jersey hot dogs, you’ve probably heard of Fox, and even if you haven’t, most New Jersey hot dog knowledge leads back to him somehow. He’s been a consultant for countless hot dog articles, books, and television programs for everyone from the Food Network to the New York Times going back several decades.

John is also the co-founder (with Erwin Benz) of the Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour, now in its 13th year, which is one of best ways to sample some of Jersey’s finest dogs. It consists of two buses, over 100 eager hot doggers, and stops at seven different notable Jersey hot dog joints, with Fox in the front of the bus on a microphone detailing the history, technique, and culinary details of each stop. Every year he and Benz add new places to the tour, among with a few favorites, making sure to show off a nice mix of styles. It’s the ultimate hot dog experience.

Jersey hot dog makers are endlessly creative with how they cook, top, and serve their dogs, but you can lump them into seven broad regional categories. Here’s your guide to the full range of Jersey hot dog styles, with recommendations on where to get the best of the genre from Fox and me.

Italian Hot Dog

Italian Hot Dog

Originating at Jimmy Buff’s in the 1930’s—which is still around making some of the best—there’s nothing like the New Jersey Italian hot dog anywhere else in the world. The traditional version, made with half- or quarter-loaves of “pizza bread” from local bakeries (big wheels of soft Italian bread, not unlike muffaletta loaves with holes in the middle) is only really found in Newark and the surrounding area. The best hot dog spots also use a local-to-Newark Best Provisions brand all-beef dog, skinless so it can survive a trip through the deep fryer before getting jammed into the bread like shawarma and topped with deep fried peppers, onions, and crispy medallions of potato.

It’s also one of the few times in New Jersey where ketchup is an acceptable topping, although purists keep it off to the side solely for dipping the potatoes. If the sandwich sounds a little bit freakish, well, it is, but the myriad flavors and textures are deceptively balanced, and they just work for the best, most unique hot dog version of sausage & peppers you will ever eat.

Where to Get It

Tommy’s Italian Sausage
900 2nd Avenue, Elizabeth NJ
(908) 351-9831

Jimmy Buff’s
60 Washington Street, West Orange NJ
(973) 325-9897

Charlie’s Italian Hot Dogs
18 South Michigan Street, Kenilworth NJ
(908) 241-2627


Pushcart Dog Hawk Krall

This is the closest thing in New Jersey that you’ll get to the classic New York City street dog. Found at carts, trucks, and walk-up storefronts, pushcart-style dogs, also affectionately known as dirty water dogs, are almost exclusively made with Sabrett natural casing all-beef dogs, spicier and more garlicky than most on this list, in part to keep flavorful as the dogs linger in their hot water bath. Standard issue toppings include sauerkraut and onion sauce, a classic New York topping sweetened with tomato. Some of the storefront shops will also serve these dogs either cooked entirely or finished on a flat grill, adding an extra crunch to the already snappy dog.

Where to Get It

Dee’s Hut (Truck)
Near Lincoln Park Faitoute Avenue, Roselle Park NJ

Randy the Hotdog Guy (Cart)
303 Long Avenue, Hillside NJ

Jerry’s Famous Frankfurters
906 2nd Avenue, Elizabeth, NJ

Easton-Style Hot Dog

Easton-Style Dog Hawk Krall

This is a funny, unique hot dog style that’s sort of hybrid between Jersey’s deep fried dogs and Pennsylvania brands, served in an almost quasi-Chicago fashion. Popular in Easton, PA and bleeding across the Delaware to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Easton-style or Western New Jersey-style hot dogs start with Berks or Kunzler brand beef-and-pork skinless dogs, shallow fried in half an inch or so of oil, and topped “all the way” with yellow mustard, pickle spears, and diced fresh onion, often wrapped in wax paper to sort of steam the bun and meld the flavors together.

One of the more unique riffs on the Easton-style dog was formerly served at Charlie’s Pool Room in Alpha, NJ there they added their grandmother’s secret Hungarian onion sauce and sliced bell peppers to the standard Easton hot dog base, along with an outsider-art-esque museum of semi-religious hot dog drawings and paraphernalia. (Unfortunately Charlie’s went out of business.) According to Fox, the two Jimmy’s on opposite sides of the river are decent they’re run by members of the same family and are apparently now hot dog rivals. With the legendary Charlie’s Pool Room gone, I would probably recommend Toby’s Cup as the place to get this style Toby’s is a wacky little neon blue hut on the side of the road that fits maybe four customers at time and cranks out some seriously delicious fried dogs.

Where to Get It

Toby’s Cup
857 Memorial Parkway, Phillipsburg, NJ
(908) 859-1925

Jimmy’s Hot Dogs
2555 Nazareth Road, Easton, PA
(610) 258-7545

Jimmy’s Doggie Stand
7 Union Square, Phillipsburg, NJ
(908) 859-1000

Jumbo Dog

Jumbo Dog Hawk Krall

Some of the other styles here can be made with jumbo-sized hot dogs, but jumbo dogs are also a New Jersey style unto themselves, with certain hot dog joints, usually those near the beach, specializing in massive footlongs.

John Fox terms this Boardwalk-style, popularized by well-known Jersey Shore spots like Max’s or The Windmill. Windmill and other spots use jumbo Sabrett’s franks, but Max’s is legendary for its use of the quarter-pound Shickhaus dog, an old recipe dating back to a defunct meat packing company, now revived and made specially by an outside company for the New Jersey market. You’ll find these jumbo dogs char-grilled, griddled on a flattop, and deep fried, but they’re always served in too-small buns with myriad toppings.

Another legendary jumbo Jersey dog was once found at Syd’s in Union, NJ—an all-beef, char-grilled, 3.2-ounce frankfurter. It was a little smaller than the quarter-pounders at Max’s or Windmill, but spicier and bolder in flavor, considered by some to be the finest hot dog New Jersey has ever seen. Syd’s restaurant is long gone, but you can purchase the Syd’s recipe dogs at Best Provisions in Newark, and they really are incredible. Hot dog shops around the state will offer them from time to time, although nobody seems to have matched the glory of the long lost Syd’s.

Where to Get It

Max’s Hot Dogs
25 Matilda Terrace, Long Branch, NJ
(732) 571-0248

Windmill Hot Dogs
Various locations in Monmouth County, NJ

Best Provisions (Syd’s Dog)
144 Avon Avenue, Newark, NJ
(973) 242-5000

Texas Weiner

Texas Weiner Hawk Krall

Texas Weiner (the preferred spelling in Jersey), Texas Hot, and Texas Hot Dog are all terms you may see associated with hot dogs in old-school joints across the country, a sort of regional misnomer branding scheme originating with Greek hot dog entrepreneurs in the early 1900’s. By many accounts the “Texas” weiner started in North Jersey, specifically in Paterson in the ‘30s, at a stand in front of a hotel run by a man named John Paterliss.

Regardless of background, the signature of the Jersey-style Texas Weiner is a natural casing dog, griddled or deep fried until crisp, and topped with Greek-style “chili” that’s more sweet than spicy thanks to ingredients like allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mustard and chopped onions are standard (but optional) garnishes.

In North Jersey you’ll typically find Texas weiners deep fried, made with a Thumann’s brand mild beef-and-pork dog, and topped with a thinner sauce at small stand-alone hot dog joints. These are what Fox calls the Paterson style.

Down in Central Jersey, the dogs are usually griddled rather than fried, made almost exclusively made with Grote & Weigel dogs manufactured in Connecticut (but manufactured specifically for the Jersey market), and topped with a much thicker chili sauce. The Central Jersey Texas weiner is often found in sit-down restaurants that are more like diners than stands, alongside a full menu of jersey cuisine.

I prefer the northern style, and Libby’s—possibly the oldest still-standing Jersey Texas Wiener joint, where the dogs are served with gravy fries and frosted mugs of beer—as a personal favorite.

Where to Get It: Paterson-Style

Libby’s Lunch
98 McBride Avenue, Paterson, NJ
(973) 278-8718

Goffle Grill
1140 Goffle Road, Hawthorne, NJ
(973) 423-0881

Pappy’s Diner
317 Union Boulevard, Totowa, NJ
(973) 595-1701

Where to Get It: Central Jersey-Style

Texas Weiner I
100 Wachtung Avenue Plainfield NJ
(908) 756-5480

Manny’s Texas Weiner
2580 Springfield Avenue, Vauxhall, NJ
(908) 964-3585

Red Tower I
500 Park Avenue, Plainfield NJ
(908) 561-0353

Ripper Dog

Ripper Dog Hawk Krall

One of the better-known styles of Jersey dogs, the Ripper is really just one of four levels of hot dog doneness (others include the Weller or Cremator) at the legendary Rutt’s Hut, but it’s become a catch-all term for deep fried hot dogs. Rutt’s (and many other deep fried dog joints in Jersey and elsewhere) start out with a Thumann’s brand beef-and-pork dog, specially made for deep frying with secret ingredients that both help the dog stand up to the deep fryer as well as “puff up” in a signature way. The frying is more than just a stunt it really crisps up a casing like nothing else.

At Rutt’s, the dogs are most commonly topped with a refreshing homemade yellow secret relish that’s a great foil to the salty fried dogs, and it’s even better with a cold beer. The relish is rumored to contain everything from cabbage to cucumbers to mustard or pickles. Others swear by nearby Hiram’s as the real deal for fried hot dogs, although there the default topping is chili instead of relish. Then there’s Callahan’s, a local favorite third rival to Rutt’s and Hiram’s, closed for years but recently re-booted by family of the original owners. They have one of the best modern examples of hot dog branding and signage I’ve ever seen.

Where to Get It

Hiram’s Roadstand
1345 Palisade Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ
(201) 592-9602

Rutt’s Hut
417 River Road, Clifton, NJ
(973) 779-8615

10 Broad Street, Norwood, NJ
(844) 468-3641

Wacky Topping Dog

Wacky Topping Dog Hawk Krall

Aside from the long-standing New Jersey styles, there’s always been a rotating collection of “wacky” hot dog joints that focus more on the toppings than the hot dogs themselves, ranging from more modern chef-driven foie gras “haute dogs” to “kitchen sink” dogs topped with everything from potato chips to pepperoni, mashed potatoes, and whipped cream.

I personally enjoy some of the more restrained cheffy dogs and the international variations, or just the fun of trying something ridiculous. But for purists like John Fox it’s somewhat of an affront to serious hot doggery—although he does note that both Destination Dogs in New Brunswick and Maui Dogs in Wildwood start with quality hot dogs (Newark’s Best Provisions at Destination, New York’s Hoffman’s at Maui).

These dogs might not change the way you think about hot dogs forever, like a Ripper or a real Italian Hot Dog might, but it can be a lot of fun to check out some of the more creative and modern hot dog variations—around once you’re educated yourself with the classics.

Where to Get It

Hot Dog Tommy’s
10 Jackson Street, Cape May, NJ
(609) 884-8388

Maui’s Dog House
806 New Jersey Avenue, Wildwood, NJ
(609) 846-0444

Destination Dogs
101 Paterson Street, New Brunswick, NJ
(732) 993-1016

Hawk Krall is an artist, illustrator, and former line cook with a lifelong obsession for unique regional cuisine, whose work can be seen in magazines, newspapers, galleries, and restaurants all over the world. He focuses on editorial illustration, streetscapes, and pop-art style food paintings.

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Sourdough Hot Dog Buns

These homemade sourdough hot dog buns have a dense and chewy texture with sourdough tang, and are perfect for your next barbecue!

I was all ready to chalk this month up to a big fat failure. I unknowingly put this off to the last possible minute, the day was crazy, and I was attempting to bake my first actual bread in who knows how long with a snotty grumpy baby suffering from allergies tied to my back (yay baby carriers!) and pulling my hair while a hyper (almost) 4 year old was attempting to put dinosaur footprints in my dough. Add to that the fact that it was cold in my house, my not very well fed starter was feeling sluggish, and my dough was super sticky and I really didn&rsquot have much hopes for these buns.

I was pleasantly surprised, though! While they didn&rsquot raise very high, and they aren&rsquot as super soft and fluffy as store bough (but not as full of fake ingredients, either!) they have a nice chewy texture and a good sourdough tang. I liked them a lot more than I thought I would.

Hawt dawgs! Getchure red hawts! Here!

Every dog has its day, and for hot dogs that day is July 4.

Approximately 150 million hot dogs are consumed on Independence Day, enough to stretch from DC to LA more than five times, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council.

Americans eat about two billion pounds of hot dogs every year. Laid end to end that’s enough to encircle the world more than 25 times. That’s 6.5 pounds per man, woman, and child.

It is said that Babe Ruth once inhaled 24 hot dogs between games of a double header and was rushed to the hospital with a serious case of indigestion. Rumors circulated that he was dead.

In 1995, three Seattle Seahawk football players, including quarterback Rick Meier, were fined $1,000 per man for snarfing hot dogs on the sidelines of a game. Their excuse: The aroma wafting from the stands was irresistible.

The average hot dog is consumed in six bites.

Have the Most Fun This Weekend with a Hot Dog Bar! Plus, 7 of My Favorite Fancy Hot Dogs.

I’ve come to realize that my heaven might include a hot dog bar.

If I’m being REAL real, I may only have one or two hot dogs per summer. Like a really good one, you know?

I lived in such a hot dog bubble forever – it wasn’t until maybe ten years ago when I watched Lacy order a hot dog with all the toppings from Five Guys (which inspired this one on the blog) that I realized… I could put OTHER THINGS on my hot dog.

Really. I mean, How did I not know this?

Before that, I was strictly a mustard person. Yellow mustard, to be exact. Shocking, right?

And then, even before that, the fanciest we got in my family was a crescent wrapped hot dog. Nothing like a jalapeno pretzel dog with cheddar beer sauce. OMG.

Hot dogs have always had such a bad rap but I can’t pass one up at a cookout. And in the last ten years, we’ve been lucky to get a few “better for you” hot dogs, like turkey dogs or even vegetarian dogs or grass fed beef dogs and organic hot dogs and all that jazz. It’s made me feel slightly better about making a big old hot dog bar in the summer at our house!

Now here’s the thing. There are so many amazing ways you can make hot dogs be all fancy and wild and high maintenance. But if you’re going to set up a hot dog BAR, then you have to make sure the toppings are low maintenance on their own. Meaning, they can sit in a bowl and not get gross (I’m looking at you beer cheese sauce) and they don’t need hands on attention.

P.S. This is SO fun.

Load on all the toppings and live it up.

These hot dogs are the business. We spent weeks discussing our favorite hot dogs and toppings along with creating some new flavor combos and generally being obsessed with everything we could put on a hot dog. But also making sure they were things you could make and forget about for a bit.

Scroll down for the complete toppings list and here’s a run down of the top seven hot dogs that made my “obsessed” list!

My Favorite Fancy Hot Dogs for your Hot Dog Bar

Our Chicago Dog

dill pickle spear/sweet pickle relish/campari tomatoes/sport peppers/yellow mustard/poppy seed sprinkle

Lacy has loved Chicago dogs forever. As much as I love pickles, all of these things on my hot dog have never appealed to me! Am I alone here? Maybe I have to go to Chicago to actually EAT one. Then I’ll get it.

The Buffalo Dog

celery leaves/buffalo wing sauce/ranch drizzle/crumbled blue cheese/chives/scallions

Ooooh this one is so good. If you don’t loathe celery, you could also dice that up and sprinkle it on top. Lots of flavor here.

The BLT Dog

shredded lettuce/chopped tomatoes/crispy bacon/ranch drizzle

I love this one so much, maybe because of the bed of shredded lettuce? We actually sliced green cabbage into super tiny slices which creates the best crunchy lettuce!

Grilled Mexican Street Corn Dog

guacamole/quick mexican corn salad

I piped some guacamole onto this hot dog than sprinkled it with a quick makeshift elote that I mixed together. Grilled corn, lime juice, cilantro, chili powder and crumbled cotija cheese. So good!

Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Dog

white cheddar/caramelized onions/ketchup

This is a seemingly simple hot dog but it has SO much more flavor than you’d anticipate. It was a close favorite for everyone.

The Hawaiian Dog

grilled pineapple/BBQ sauce/diced shallot

The caramely pineapple here is so sweet, the bbq sauce is tangy and the diced shallot is crunchy. This is so good too!

Jalapeño Apple Slaw Dog

jalapeño apple slaw/spicy brown mustard

This slaw is absolutely incredible!! It’s crunchy, sweet and spicy and would be excellent on other sandwiches too. Topped with mustard because I can’t get enough.

A Classic Dog

What is YOUR classic dog? I threw some ketchup and mustard on this one and I do enjoy both. But everyone’s classic dog is different and I want to hear yours!

I hope this gives you a little inspiration for some fun summer cookouts! Even just serving one or two fancy hot dogs at a cookout can be such a fun twist. Grab all the rosé and the summer beer and you’re set.