Friday, February 02, 2007

"What is everything?"

That's what I always ask when I order a hot dog at a new place. At first the reason I asked was to ascertain the ingredients that the HDJ felt were proper to put on a hot dog for the purposes of writing the review. But after a while a pattern began to develop that has now given me a different reason altogether to ask: The response and the manner the response is given is a very good indication of how good the hot dog is going to be.

And I don't mean that if the right stuff is included then I know it will be good, because that is simply not true. Chili, slaw, mustard and onions (the only correct way to top a real WVHD) are all subject to being really bad individually and therefore the potential for bad hot dogs that are technically correct is great. No, what I mean is that the way the question is answered - the conviction of the response - is very telling about how serious the HDJ is about hot dogs.

When I ask "what is everything?" and the response is authoritative in its tone, it doesn't matter what the words are. If the matter has been thought through properly and the ingredients have been proven to be complimentary of each other then the reply will come with great confidence. The confidence of the reply is nearly always in direct proportion to the quality of the complete hot dog. Whether chili or sauce, whether slaw or no slaw, even if they say"ketchup", the hot dog is going to be be better because of the intention behind it.

Any wavering or indecisiveness in the face of the question means that this is not a serious hot dog joint, it's just a place that sells weenies on buns with chili and slaw and maybe ketchup or mustard and possibly onions. The chili is probably poorly prepared and the slaw, store-bought. No thought is given to the quality of the weenie or the bun. It is nearly always a terrible hot dog.

Now sometimes a good HDJ can have people working the counter that lack the experience or knowledge to confidently say what "everything" means. Maybe the high school kid that works the evening shift, or the extra lunchtime help hasn't been properly trained. No matter, it's still a good indicator. If the HDJ has a great product and is intentional about providing its customers a consistent experience then they will be committed to having their order takers on board with the vision.

So, pay attention all you hot dog sellers. Get your people on the same page and decide in advance what you put on my hot dog when I ask for everything.

I am listening.

4 comments:

R Merlino said...

A word from the "other side of the counter:"

Nothing confuses me more than the patron who asks for "everything." I have about 20 different toppings at my place -some complement one another, some don't. There is a list of the toppings that any literate person could figure out-fercryinoutloud don't you KNOW what you like on your dogs? There are also several "suggested topping combos" with catchy names listed on my board. Some day when I am short on patience, somebody who asks for everything is going to get a basket with 2 dogs and 20 toppings heaped on-served with a fork! So all you would be clever, mock indignant patrons out there: read the friggin SIGN! ;op

Stanton said...

Touché!

I'll concede that my point doesn't take into consideration the kind of HDJ that has so many veriations like yours apparently does, but I was really thinking of the kind of place that has one basic hot dog on the menu.

So tell us, where is this place of yours?

R Merlino said...

Southborough, MA check me out at http://thehotdogtruck.blogspot.com/
I tried a WV Dog out in my "testing lab" and plan on adding a WV Dog (a la Harvey) to the menu once it warms up a bit.

Just don't ask for ketchup.

Rob said...

I have expanded on "everything."

http://www.thehotdogtruck.com/2007/04/more-about-everything.html

I also linked you!