Just in time for the Fourth, Nation's Restaurant News is out with a fun article on all kinds of hot dogs sold by restaurants around the country, from single joints to large chains. The story is titled: "Designing a hotter dog: NRN takes a look at the ingredients that make up 10 standout hot dogs."
The article's thrust: Americans still chow down on classic dogs but more innovative takes on the familiar frank are grabbing attention and generating sales, too. Nation's Restaurant News surveyed 25 "leading vendors" to see how they did the dog; 10 "top dogs" made the cut for the story.
It's an interesting line-up, from the chili-slathered weenie at Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington, to a dog striped with cream cheese at Monster Dogs, a Seattle-based chain, to the Polish sausage topped with mango relish served in a hollowed-out piece of French bread at Puka Dog on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to the New Englander, a dog topped with sauerkraut, bacon, mustard, sweet relish and raw onion, at the Super Duper Weenie in
The story, accompanied by an eye-catching slideshow of the top contenders, is a fun, delicious read.
But, as with anything involving an American icon there's bound to be a dab of head-scratching controversy over some of the choices. Take the Chicago Dog, for instance. It's the classic version as expressed by Sonic Drive-In. Some hot dog fanatics will surely take umbrage that our legendary locals, Hot Doug's, Superdawg Drive-In, America's Dog and others, were overlooked in favor of an Oklahoma City-based chain with no outlet in Chicago itself to get a Chicago Dog. Sonic does have four suburban locations and a fifth opening shortly.
Chicagoans are passionate about hot dogs and all things you put on them -- or don't, as in the case with ketchup. I experienced this emotion first-hand recently while trying to find out the brand of mustard used at the Lincoln Park Zoo's Cafe Brauer back in the 1950s and 1960s. Dozens of nostalgic readers wrote in with their suggestions on what that mystery mustard might be.
Read my Daley Question column to learn more about the mystery mustard and possible substitutes. And look for it in-print in Wednesday's Good Eating section with photos of the mustard tasting.