Sunday, January 07, 2007

Top Ten Lessons Learned From One Year of Hot Dog Blogging

10. People look at you strangely when you take pictures of your food. I'd like to tell you that I got over being stared at, but frankly I think I am more sensitive about it now then I was at first. Most of the hot dog photos, you will notice, are outside. I most often get my order to go and wait until I'm out of sight before taking the picture.

9. Half of the population want to know where the best hot dogs are found. I don't go around telling people that I blog about hot dogs, but if I am at a gathering and it comes out, the first thing people ask is, "So who has the best hot dogs?"

8. Half of the population are sure that they know where the best hot dogs are sold. The most common opening line of the emails I get is "The best hot dogs in West Virginia can be found at..." Most of the time these folks also poo poo another well thought of hot dog joint as being an inferior place that no one in their right mind would eat in. Often times HDJs are accused of being unsanitary by their detractors.

7. Yann's Hot Dogs in Fairmont has, by far, the most loyal fans. Based on the emails I have received I would estimate that 70% think Yann's has the best hot dogs in the entire universe and there is not another hot dog that should be injested by humans. 20% will eat other hot dogs as long as they are made in Fairmont. 5% think that Russell Yann is God.

6. Marion County hot dog fans think that the hot dogs they have in Fairmont are found all over the state. Even those expatriates writing from their adopted lands refuse to believe that the hot dog culture of their youth is the norm. They consistently argue that slaw is not an ingredient that can be put on a "real" WVHD in spite of all the evidence gathered on this blog and website.

5. There are multiple gradients from north to south and east to west when it comes to the dominant flavors of chili and slaw. For example, chili is a little spicy in the southern coal fields, virtually without spice in central W. Va. and spicy as the dickens in north central WV. Slaw gets sweeter the further south you go. I have tried to figure out a way to chart these gradients but it would take a lot of maps, lots of driving and lots of money.

4. Hot dog joints that really care about having good hot dogs don't include ketchup on their "everything" hot dogs. In fact, one of the key indicators of a good hot dog joint is that when you ask "What is everything?" they immediately and confidently tell you. When the answer is wishy-washy you can usually be sure that the hot dogs are mediocre.

3. Expatriate West Virginians often Google "West Virginia style hot dogs", "slaw on hot dogs," and many other combinations that lead them to this blog or the website. When I first started this blog I wrote tongue-in-cheek in the blog description that WV hot dogs were "quite possibly is the reason that many transplanted West Virginians can never really be happy living anywhere else." I had no idea how true that was.

2. There are far more places that sell hot dogs than I ever dreamed. This year we have visited one hundred HDJs. While I've hit the most obvious places in my town, we've not scratched the surface statewide. Call it job security.

And what is the number one lesson that I have learned from one year of hot dog blogging?

1. My God, I love a good hot dog!

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