Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Huntington Hot Dog Joint: Johnny Dog is in his element at WV Hot Dog Festival

Due to the nature of the event, I have refrained from reviewing HDJs at the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival both this year and last. For the most part, the outdoor catering incarnations of popular local HDJs pale in comparison to their permanent home. Last year, Sam's caused a minor international incident by neglecting to bring any slaw to the event. This year it was Bowinkle who "screwed the pooch," so to speak. Their offering was a over-sized bun topped with a teeny weenie, bland sauce, and so-so slaw (with a big squirt of mustard on, not beside and under, the slaw).

Some joints do indeed excel at the event. Stewarts has years of experience in catering local sporting events and can reproduce its 5th Ave. dog just about anywhere on the planet. Hillbilly Hot Dog brings its kitsch with it on the road and was under the close supervision of Sonny, The Weenie Man. M & M's stand was manned with two of their regular employees, so they were also able to dish out perfect duplicates of the dogs that made Chesapeake famous.

Even with he success of these joints at the Fest, you could still tell that they were all out of their element somewhat. Part of the charm of these places is their respective atmosphere, be they drive-ins, dairy bars, or converted school buses.

Johnny Dogs, on the other hand, was exactly in his element and was one of the points of light for the festival. For him, it was just like finals day at Huntington Junior College or any other event that has folks in downtown crowding around his stand for a hot dog. Therefore, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to give Johnny Dogs a proper review (see South Side Chevron for more).

Johnny uses Cavalier's jumbo-sized frank and the standard Huntington-fresh buns, which is a sturdy foundation for any WV hot dog. He then brings it home with a Manwich-y sauce that is rich in beef, green pepper, and sweetness.

JD would probably be a 4.5 if he had a way to keep slaw fresh and cold, but, as it stands now, he still gets a 4 weenie rating for Having an outstanding sauce that, while unique, still fits well into the local hot dog culture nicely.

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