Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another Collegiate Hot Dog Essay

As I told you before, a certain professor at Marshall University has offered extra credit to any student who will write an essay about the regional differences in hot dogs, and bonus points for getting it published here. Here's the latest effort, by Tasha Lefevers:

A Southern Girl’s Perspective on the WV Hot Dog

I grew up in Southeastern Kentucky and Tennessee. We liked hot dogs there. They are definitely a cookout necessity in the South and are also a common menu item at fast food places. Despite the hot dog’s popularity down home it could never compare to the insatiable desire West Virginians have for them. I’ll illustrate some of the differences I’ve observed concerning general hot dog preferences between these two regions of Appalachia.

There are an unbelievable number of restaurants right here in the Huntington area whose main dish is the hot dog. I couldn’t name a single operating hot dog stand anywhere near my hometown. I visited New York City as a teenager before ever coming to West Virginia. I was excited to get my first NY street vendor hot dog of movie and television fame, but was quite disappointed to learn that no one puts chili on a hot dog in the Big Apple. Sauerkraut was the only topping available besides the usual mustard, ketchup, relish and onions.

Here in the Mountain State cole slaw seems to be the favored topping of this sort and ketchup and relish are rarely used. Slaw is an important aspect of a WV hot dog but it is rarely used in the southern states. In the South, chili and cheese, and I mean real chili, with whole beans, tomatoes, onions and meat sauce are regular toppings for a dog. In Huntington, chili on a hot dog is more commonly referred to as sauce. If you use Stewart’s hot dogs, a long standing Huntington institution, as an example, their topping is almost a paste. Sam’s and Hillbilly Hot Dogs’ both have a meatier sauce but sauce it is.

While West Virginians are perfectly willing to top french fries with chili and cheese there seems to be some aversion to the application of both to a hot dog. A former boyfriend of mine, a Huntington native, would eat a hot dog with cheese alone or one with chili and slaw but never chili alone or chili and cheese together. This may have been just a personal preference but friends from the area have expressed similar tastes in hot dogs.

The final major difference I see lies in the bun. Down south you just get your standard hot dog bun. I never had an English bun before I came here. The buttery, toasted deliciousness of the English bun is not to be missed. I am surprised that it hasn’t become a more popular hot dog practice in other areas. I think it might be just too much trouble for those who don’t love a hot dog as West Virginians do.

Hot dogs are obviously treasured in our area. We support many businesses in which hot dogs are the top seller. New hot dog stands crop up all the time and a lot of the other restaurants always have them on the menu. Toppings and bun styles seem unique to the West Virginia, some of which are clear improvements over more northern and southern varieties. Who wants beans or kraut on a hot dog anyway? I’ll take one on an English bun with sauce, mustard, and onions- West Virginia style, but no slaw please; I’m still a southern girl at heart.

1 comment:

The Film Geek said...

Sounds like she's a smart student! (Except for that "no slaw" thing, of course.) :)