Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Dairy Queen Code

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.


Rudy Panucci said...

Is there really a Dairy Queen in almost every town? Seems to me that most of the Dairy Queen's I know of have fallen by the wayside or converted to non-franchise ice cream stands. There's the one in the Town Center, and the one in Nitro, and I can't think of any more around Charleston.

Which is a shame, since 30 years ago, my favorite hot dogs were the footlongs from the DQ in Dunbar. Of course, I got mine plain, so people treated me like a freak.

Great blog, by the way. I was gonna plug it in PopCult, but "There's A Blog In My Soup" beat me to it. I'll get you later.

Stanton said...

You're right, Rudy, a lot of them in the Kanawha Valley have faded away but there are still DQs in St. Albans, Nitro, Teays Valley, Hurricane, Rt. 21 (just past Skeenies), Clendenin and probably more I'm not thinking of. In many smaller towns DQ is the only fast food joint, and they are still very plentiful around the state.

Thanks for reading! I love PopCult and RFC. Keep it up!

Don Hodges said...

I miss WV so bad. I live in central Kentucky and go "home" a few times a year. Each time I do, I make sure I stop at the locak DQ for my fill of hot dog goodness with everything.

A little research will yield that most DQ's in WV are independently owned. WV is one of the only states that still have the old DQ's in operation. Most DQ's in other states/locations are company owned which is one reason why they have the same menu and won't let things like placing slaw on a dog.

hmmm reading this blog is making me hungry for home.... I'll have a foot long hot dog with everything.

ts said...

i remember we used to go to dairy queen as a kid. i loved those things. they were a real highlight of summer when i visited my grandma.