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What is a "New York Hot Dog?"


Harry
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I think you have to break it down into two issues: 1- the frankfurter itself, and 2- the garnishes (toppings, bun).

From what I've seen, in Chicago the classic frankfurter is usually Vienna Beef or a brand that mimics that style. It's relatively light in flavor, and usually served in a fat size. In New York the classic frankfurter is in the Sabrett style, usually in a narrow size. It's all beef but has a spicier profile, and the snap of natural casing.

Then there are the toppings. Probably the reason New York-style frankfurters are spicier is that they're more the main event and less the canvas for a lot of toppings. Classic Chicago-style frankfurters have a ton of stuff on them by New York standards. Whereas, the New York frankfurter is a minimalist creation, with the traditional toppings being sauerkraut, sweet onions (usually either/or), and Gulden's-style brown mustard. Also, New York hot dogs are usually served on a plain bun, and Chicago on a poppyseed bun.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It's also worth noting that many people use the term "New York Hot Dog" without much clarification - perhaps assuming that there's only one style. But is it safe to say that there are two basic categories?

I'm thinking that the "dirty water dogs" served by many street carts are really a different breed than the Gray's Papaya, Papaya King and others of the Papaya School.

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I guess when I think New York hot dog, I think Nathan's Famous (and then Sabrett).

I had to chuckle a few years ago. I stopped at a reststop on the PA Turnpike, and in the food court there were all the usual places together, and a Nathan's. But they were serving a pale, skinless hot dog. I tried to say something (like, "This isn't a Nathan's hot dog!"), but they just didn't have any idea what I was talking about. I guess maybe the manager there thought you could bring in any hot dog you wanted?

But I definitely associate Nathan's with New York hot dog first.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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It seems that when people think of a "New York hot dog" they are either referring to the dirty water street cart Sabretts, or the grilled beef dogs served at Nathan's, Katz's, Papaya King, Gray's Papaya, and numerous Papaya King knockoffs. Katz's and the Papaya places use Sabretts that are prepared on a griddle. Although considered a New York dog, Sabrett was originally a New Jersey company. They were located on Cole and Henderson street in Jersey City. The company was sold a few times and is now owned by Marathon Enterprises in Jersey although the dogs are produced at the Stahl Mayer plant in the Bronx.

When referring to "New York hot dogs" most people mean New York City, where the above 2 styles (dirty water all beef and griddled all beef) are prevalent. The state of New York has a big variety of hot dogs. The Hudson Valley, in particular Newburgh, has many establishments serving what we in Jersey refer to as a Texas Weiner. A grilled beef and pork dog topped with mustard, onions, and Greek style chili. Also called a Coney in other states. Around Buffalo there is a small chain called Ted's which is famous for char broiled dogs. The brand used is Sahlen's, which is one of the finest German style beef and pork dogs available anywhere.

The area near Rochester is known for their "white hots" which are made from mostly pork and veal with a tiny amount of beef included. These taste more like a bratwurst or weisswurst, but are shaped like a regular hot dog. You can also find in Manhattan more than just the dirty water or grilled beef dogs. Crif Dogs is a Rutt's Hutt (New Jersey pork based deep fried dog) knockoff. A former owner admitted this to me. And they do a pretty good job. Knowing that many New Yorkers are used to a more well seasoned beef dog, Crif's also offers a quality (THumann's) beef dog that is prepared on a griddle. There is also F&B in Chelsea which serves a variety of European style dogs. Karl Ehmer and Schaller & Weber are 2 companies that make top quality dogs. One or the other is served at the various Hallo Berlin carts and restaurants.

Holly's site has pictures and reviews of many of these places. Still waiting for some new ones Holly.

As for Chicago style, I was never crazy about all the toppings that go on a Chicago dog. A guy from Chicago moved to Jersey and opened a place near me serving authentic Chicago style dogs and sandwiches such as Italian Beef. I ate there frequently and sort of aquired a taste for the Chicago dog. The place was called J's Beef. He left his Linden location and is looking to open elsewhere. He is currently doing catering. The beef dogs popular in Chicago; Vienna, Best, Sinai 48, Red Hot Chicago, etc are in the Hungarian rather than Frankfurt style, meaning that they are more mildly spiced, favoring less garlic and more of another particular spice (which I can't recall) than what you are used to in a Sabrett, Nathan's, Best (from Newark, N.J. not Chi town) Boars Head or Hebrew National. As a result, the Chicago dogs blend in better with the other ingredients and balance out well. A Chicago dog with a spicy Sabrett would be out of balance.

I'll let everyone know when and where J's Beef will reopen. He makes a great example of a Chicago Hot Dog. He was even recognized by the President of Vienna Beef. His version is far superior to the Shake Shack's. The Shake Schack's are often served warm or cool and have cucmbers, lettuce, and peppers, which are not typical of a Chicago Hot Dog. J's serves his (Vienna dog, 6 to a lb) on a poppy seed bun with mustard, neon green relish, onions, tomato slices, pickle, sports peppers, and celery salt. The dogs, mustard, relish, pickles, peppers, and celery salt are brought in from Chicago.

John the hot dog guy

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The Hudson Valley, in particular Newburgh, has many establishments serving what we in Jersey refer to as a Texas Weiner. A grilled beef and pork dog topped with mustard, onions, and Greek style chili. Also called a Coney in other states. Around Buffalo there is a small chain called Ted's which is famous for char broiled dogs. The brand used is Sahlen's, which is one of the finest German style beef and pork dogs available anywhere.

The area near Rochester is known for their "white hots" which are made from mostly pork and veal with a tiny amount of beef included. These taste more like a bratwurst or weisswurst, but are shaped like a regular hot dog.

The names do change by area. In Syracuse - only 90 minutes east of Rochester - the "white hots" are universally referred to (and marketed as) "coneys" (pronounced cone-ee by most but coon-ee by some). And I've seen the white hots labeled as Texas Hots in the Albany area but I don't know if that's typical throughout the Capitol District.

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Funny I never really thought of NYC as a hot dog town - of course you want to find the Nathan's or Hebrew Nationals when you are at the stadium vs. the Sysco crap... and I agree with everyone else, there's your grilled and your dirty water dog.....

Nathan's would have to be your quintessential NY hot dog, especially with the hot dog eating contest and it's popularity still soaring. And Papaya King was always a standout, but placed into the NYC culinary hall of fame alongside the Soup Nazi and calzones in the bronx thanks to that one episode of seinfeld.. who can forget "but it needs to be a papaya king hot dog!!!" suddenly after that episode aired, the many papaya clones started popping up.

dirty water dog is for emergencies mostly....so I guess it's either Nathan's or Papaya King - style

Ketchup on hot dog, big no-no in these parts, that's for sure...

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I guess when I think New York hot dog, I think Nathan's Famous (and then Sabrett).

I had to chuckle a few years ago.  I stopped at a reststop on the PA Turnpike, and in the food court there were all the usual places together, and a Nathan's.  But they were serving a pale, skinless hot dog.  I tried to say something (like, "This isn't a Nathan's hot dog!"), but they just didn't have any idea what I was talking about.  I guess maybe the manager there thought you could bring in any hot dog you wanted?

But I definitely associate Nathan's with New York hot dog first.

Be careful with Nathan's. They are hit or miss and I wouldn't recommend most of them. A true Natahan's dog has a natural casing and is prepared on a hot griddle. Many Nathan's use the skinless version and cook them on those roller grills that you see at movie theaters. Too bad many people have an inferior dog from one of these franchises and then wonder what the fuss is about Nathan's. There are some that are as good as the original in Coney Island, minus the atmosphere and ambience of course. The Nathan's in the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, N.J. is every bit as good as Nathan's in Coney Island. And they even have a special. Three dogs for $3.33 if you buy an order of fries. This special is run Fri through Mon.

John the hot dog guy

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I'm not really sure the boiled (I'll say boiled for poached/dirty-water/whatever) versus grilled (griddled, really) distinction matters from the standpoint of definitions. Whether you get a boiled or grilled frankfurter in New York, if you've gone to one of the better places then chances are it's still a Sabrett. Nor do the standard toppings vary: whether you go to a street cart or Papaya King, it's sauerkraut, sweet onions, mustard and, reluctantly, ketchup that are the primary options. You can also get both boiled and grilled frankfurters in Chicago.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It should be noted that the Rochester white hot is often dressed with "hot sauce" which is not too different from the Greek-style chili-ish stuff John mentioned being served elsewhere. Those white hots are usually grilled.

And also, just north of New York City in Mamaroneck, I'm not sure it's a whole new variant, but Walter's grilled dogs are really quite fine, especially because they're split before grilling.

gallery_23992_3755_82262.jpg

gallery_23992_3755_22120.jpg

That's a double dog, well-done, with an alarming amount of mustard. I'm not sure any of the components is individually outstanding, but the whole package is delicious. And the building is cool.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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sauerkraut, sweet onions, mustard and, reluctantly, ketchup that are the primary options

Didn't Bourdain say in Kitchen Confidential that anyone who puts ketchup on a hot dog should be publicly flogged? I agree.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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sauerkraut, sweet onions, mustard and, reluctantly, ketchup that are the primary options

Didn't Bourdain say in Kitchen Confidential that anyone who puts ketchup on a hot dog should be publicly flogged?  I agree.

In the Wikipedia section on Hot Dog Variations they mention this fact in the coney discussion:

These white hot dogs are sometimes known as coneys. They are also known in the Syracuse area where Heid's of Liverpool is one of the oldest hot dog restaurants in the nation, opened in 1886. Heid's allows only mustard as a topping for their flat-grilled sausages.
(bold italics added for emphasis)

This was actually true for many years - probably up until the 1980's. if you wanted ketchup on your hot dog or coney you had to bring your own because the owners believed it was wrong to serve them with ketchup. I don't recall whether the addition of ketchup to the menu occurred when new owners took over or if it coincided with them beginning to offer French fries (which really do benefit from ketchup in my opinion). But they do have ketchup now.

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There's definitely not just one NY dog, as everyone has pointed out. But in my youth, because we always took the train from Jersey into Penn Station, the hot dog I remember most was the Nedick's served there on a New England style bun, and with bowls of mustard-relish on the counter (along with the obligatory orange drink). A web search tells me there is (or was) a reconstituted Nedick's on the LIRR side of the station. Anyone tried it? Menu says they serve all different styles of hot dogs, even Wisconsin brats! But it's the Nedick's dog I remember, which, if I recall the taste correctly, was probably a pork/beef dog. I don't recall, either, whether Nedick's was a NY-based chain or from New England (the latter given its bun style).

Perhaps the quintessential way to define a NYC hot dog is one served at a transit hub, like the Penn Station Nedick's. Another transit hub where I enjoyed many a dried out grilled hot dog was on the Grand Central end of the shuttle, as you exited the shuttle and headed to the connecting lines. Don't know whether it's still there, since I frequented it in the mid and late 1970s when I worked at GCT for the railroad telling the NY radio stations how late the Harlem, Hudson & NH pm rush trains were running.

Anyone else have any transit hub hot dog favs?

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Nedicks and an orange drink! Where is that when I need it ?????

I remember them well from the corner of Macy's. But I'm going back, what, forty years?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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There are actually three Nedick's in New York City now. I was pretty young when Nedick's disappeared sometime in the late 1970s, however I did eat there several times as a kid. Based on my weak memories and the stronger memories of a few people I've checked in with about this, the hot dogs are pretty much the same as back in the day, but the orange drink is now awful. There's also the expanded menu of American regional hot dogs -- I haven't tried anything from that menu yet, but will eventually I suppose. The Chicago hot dog is Vienna Beef, which is a good sign.

I wouldn't necessarily call Nedick's a New York hot dog, though. Despite its popularity in New York, I'd still categorize it as a New England hot dog. There's not a whole lot of difference, but the split-and-buttered bun just isn't a New York thing. It's a New England thing. I'm pretty sure it was and is a beef hot dog, though.

Also, while New York-style frankfurters are beef by default, I don't think that's necessarily unique to New York. Chicago-style hot dogs are also usually beef. Ditto, I believe, for Orange Julius.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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There's not a whole lot of difference, but the split-and-buttered bun just isn't a New York thing. It's a New England thing.

The new England style split bun with the crust only on the thin edges is the predominant hot dog vehicle in the majority of hot dog places in central NY state - but it's not buttered.

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The fondest memories I have of Nedick's is the mustard/sweet relish combo condiment that they served. It was the first time I ever saw that condiment, and it worked so well on their hot dogs.

Didn't Howard Johnson have a couple of hot dog stands serving a similar dog to Nedicks?

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The Hudson Valley, in particular Newburgh, has many establishments serving what we in Jersey refer to as a Texas Weiner. A grilled beef and pork dog topped with mustard, onions, and Greek style chili. Also called a Coney in other states. Around Buffalo there is a small chain called Ted's which is famous for char broiled dogs. The brand used is Sahlen's, which is one of the finest German style beef and pork dogs available anywhere.

The area near Rochester is known for their "white hots" which are made from mostly pork and veal with a tiny amount of beef included. These taste more like a bratwurst or weisswurst, but are shaped like a regular hot dog.

The names do change by area. In Syracuse - only 90 minutes east of Rochester - the "white hots" are universally referred to (and marketed as) "coneys" (pronounced cone-ee by most but coon-ee by some). And I've seen the white hots labeled as Texas Hots in the Albany area but I don't know if that's typical throughout the Capitol District.

Most of the local joints here call a red hot a "texas" and a white a white. The references to Coneys have always been those monster foot long ones. Maybe it's a rochester thing

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Question for those NY hot dog experts on the site:

At the Papaya King flagship (86th and 3rd), their signs have always (at least since the 70's, which is as far back as I can remember) implied that they get their hot dogs made specially for them (as opposed to Gray's Papaya, which advertises the use of Sabrett hot dogs). Is this actually the case? Or do they use Sabrett, too? Maybe it's my imagination, but I've always detected a slight difference between the two, although it could just be chalked up to grill temperature or other factors.

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LPShanet,

Any difference between Papaya King and Gray's could be chalked up to other factors. Both places use the EXACT same dog. I've gone into detail regarding this in other posts. I've spoken to distributors, someone whose father drove a Sabrett truck for years (and had both places on his route) as well as a big shot at Marathon. Same recipe dog, same size. Katz's also uses the same recipe dog, but a slightly larger size. I was even given the case # or serial number for the dogs sold to Papaya King and Gray's. It is the same. Papaya King likes to say that the dogs are made special for them, but I can assure you that this is not true. They like to tell people that theirs contain an extra spice, but this too is not true. One possible difference is that Papaya King is one account in the 10% that gets delivered refrigerated, not frozen. I don't know if Gray's is in that 10%. First time I went to both, I thought Papaya King was better. On other visits, they've tasted exactly the same or varied little due to time on the grill, freshness of the dogs, freshness of the bun, etc.

John the hot dog guy

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whether you go to a street cart or Papaya King, it's sauerkraut, sweet onions, mustard and, reluctantly, ketchup that are the primary options. You can also get both boiled and grilled frankfurters in Chicago.

I dare you utto go to Hot Doug's and order ketchup. They do not look kindly on that in these parts.

Living hard will take its toll...
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whether you go to a street cart or Papaya King, it's sauerkraut, sweet onions, mustard and, reluctantly, ketchup that are the primary options. You can also get both boiled and grilled frankfurters in Chicago.

I dare you utto go to Hot Doug's and order ketchup. They do not look kindly on that in these parts.

I don't blame them. Putting ketchup on a hot dog is a sure sign of a rube.

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