With at least one location in virtually every town in West Virginia, Dairy Queen is easily the most ubiquitous of all hot dog joints in the state. I am forever getting emails from people who say that I should review this or that DQ because they have good hot dogs. Having tried a few of the local DQ's, I have found a great disparity in the kind and quality of hot dog toppings they sell. Some of them are pretty good and some are downright gross.
Now if you've traveled much at all, you know it's not normal to find a disparity in the taste of food in a chain restaurant. A McDonalds Hamburger in Glenville West Virginia (yes, they have a McDonalds) tastes EXACTLY like a McDonalds hamburger in Los Angeles California. But DQ hot dogs are different where ever you go. It got me thinking.
According to the DQ corporate website, Dairy Queen sells two hot dog products; a "Hot Dog" and a "Chili Cheese Dog." If you examine their nutritional information documents you can deduce that a "Hot Dog" includes mustard as the only topping. The Chili Cheese Dog adds, predictably enough, chili and cheese. It would seem, though, that DQ gives its franchises a lot more lattitude in customizing its menu than do most franchised chains. Even though the corporate literature and menu boards have only the basic two dogs pictured, individual restaurants seem to have the ability to offer whatever it feels is locally appropriate. If you call up a DQ in various locations and ask them "what's 'everything' on a hot dog?" you will get lots of answers. One could assume that each store owner would be acutely aware of the local hot dog culture and would be sure to offer what the people want. These franchisees are no dummies and market forces would insure that the hot dogs at the local DQ were reflective of what people expected their hot dogs to be.
So, here we have a national chain that doesn't know a West Virginia Hot Dog from Shinola that just might be the best indicator of where in the state eats what on their hot dogs. I find that interesting, ironic and worthy of further investigation.
Therefore, during the month of September I will be focusing on Dairy Queen hot dogs. I'm not sure how far I'll be able to travel from Charleston, but if you have a suggested DQ location please let me know so I can try to get to it.
Maybe we can get Chris to check out the DQs in the Huntington area. Of course we might have to wait until he gets his appetite back after the painful and embarassing football fiasco that will happen on Saturday.