The Ukraine is Weak: 4th of July 2017

“Do you know what the Ukraine is? It’s a sitting duck. A road apple, Newman. The Ukraine is weak. It’s feeble. I think it’s time to put a hurt on the Ukraine.” – Kramer in Seinfeld. Happy 4th of July everyone. On this special holiday, after almost 2 years of writing about hot dogs, I have decided to take this opportunity to put all of my gumption into verbally abusing a hot dog from another nation. We Americans have thrived off of being unfriendly, loud, fat, and annoying for years (especially in 1776), and I would like to continue this tradition today. A while back, I went to the Ukrainian Village in Manhattan with Mike and had a traditional Ukrainian hot dog. I have been waiting until this day to tell you how awful it was.

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Baczynsky? Sounds like a disease my cousin caught in Korea. It definitely doesn’t sound like someone who knows how to make a weenie. Now, there are 5 distinct issues with the hot dog pictured above. I shall enumerate.

1. The bun, in general. A bun should be one piece of bread, held together. Here, the bun is split clearly up the middle just like Ukraine’s choice of languages. Maybe Russia wants the other half. It also is hard, like a weird piece of ciabatta. Tell me about the last time you wanted a hard weird piece of ciabatta. I didn’t think so.

2. Carrot salad. Am I a rabbit? Am I little bunny foo foo hopping through the forest? No, but I certainly am scooping up the makers of this wiener and boppin’ ’em on the head.

3. Lack of diversity. There is only one topping, it is carrot salad, and there aren’t any other options. In America, we have all sorts of toppings, flavors, ethnic groups, and languages. Ukraine has one: carrot salad, Ukrainian, white people. All the same. Vanilla.

4. The shape of the sausage. No further detail required.

5. The hot dog was not made in America. The hot dog was invented in America, ladies and gentleman. No other country can claim this. Yes, sausages are inherently German, and the Danish have done a great job at making their own style of weenie, but there was a cart in Coney Island that started the whole thing. It’s true, I wrote on homage back in 2015: NHDD 2015 Homage . Don’t try and sneak one past me, Ukraine.

0.01776 weenies. “Murica.

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Joey Chestnut will eat 68 hot dogs today and claim the title of National Hot Dog eating champion for the 10th time in 11 years. Now, go out there, have a wonderful day, and do American things. Crack a craft beer, brewed in the states, grill a weenie, lay back and enjoy yourself. It’s Independence day, so be independent. Freedom isn’t free. America the beautiful, four score and seven years ago, I had a dream, speak softly and carry a big stick, they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our Independence Day! Happy 4th, y’all.

Cheers

P.S. [Disclaimer: The Ukrainian dog was actually pretty decent. If I were being more serious, I’d probably give it a 3-point-something. But, I’m wearing red white and blue right now and feeling very patriotic, so I ask that you kind of just let me have it. Satire, right? Thanks.]

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Special Edition: Destination Dogs, Philly

That’s me and Jimmy Cronk, creator and co-owner of Destination Dogs in downtown Philadelphia. That’s two people who share a passion for hot dogs. The person on the left just eats them and tries to avoid becoming obese. The person on the right creates them. The weenie God – he is an enabler in the best of ways, coming up with 33 (for me, 34) location-themed high quality weenies for all to enjoy. I was lucky enough to spend a Saturday afternoon in this fine establishment in a the fine city of Philly, and ended up having 6 of Jimmy’s fine franks. Cue the obesity.

From left to right: “One Bite in Bangkok”, “The Chicago Bull”, “Trenton Thunder”, and “Chivas Royale”. These weenies are themed after Thailand, Chicago, Trenton, NJ, and Mexico. There is nowhere else in America where you can do this. It’s absolutely wild. This old boy was as happy as could be. Imagine your favorite thing in the world. Now imagine it in 34 different varieties, all while serving craft beer. I think that’s what John Lennon was singing about.

One bite in Bangkok is made of a snake. To be very clear, it is not a hot dog, it is a python sausage. I literally ate a python adorned with cucumber salad, pepper jelly, crushed peanuts, and cilantro. It was dope. The Chicago Bull is a classic Chicago dog, kind of like Emmett’s. Can’t go wrong, a true classic. Chivas Royale is deep fried, loaded with cheese sauce, bacon, salsa verde, sour cream, and scallions. I felt my cholesterol thicken as I consumed it, and I loved it. Then the most unique, even though I just ate python, was the Trenton Thunder. This Thor-esque colossus of a wiener was also deep fried, loaded with pork roll (aka Taylor ham), scrambled egg, cheese sauce, and a very interesting tomato and pepper jelly. So far, Trenton, somehow, while being a relatively undesirable city, produced an insanely desirable hot dog. Get this one.

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Heeeeerrreee’s Jimmy! While he didn’t have an axe and break through a door, once he found out that I wrote a hot dog blog, Jimmy did what any hot dog lover would do for another – he hooked it up. We got to try a custom Philly creation that he plans to bust out during Iggles season. I don’t want to leak his secret recipe, but it’s basically a Philly cheese steak-weenie hybrid, and it works. Upon first glance, it was like a kindergarten art room: dysfunctional and filled with things that don’t get along. Then, once we got to know the inner-workings, we realized how great it could be. I was honored to get to try it, a true A+. We also got to try some amazing chili sauce and a “Kansas City Beefs”, adorned with pulled BBQ ribs and slaw. This was the simplest dog, but maybe the best. If only my stomach allowed, I would have had 3 more. I still can’t decide if Trenton Thunder or Kansas City Beefs was the best, so I’ll recommend that you get both when you go.

In summary, this place is the real deal, and I’m a huge fan. The quality of the weenies is incredible; we have the snap, the juice, the smoky flavor, and the size to bun ratio. The buns are hearty, but not too thick, and nicely toasted. Once you add in all the exotic toppings, you have yourself a real all-inclusive hot dog resort of an experience. My hat goes off to Jimmy for this vision, as well as his hospitality. The good news is, he’s not just in Philly, but New Brunswick, NJ as well. You better believe I’ll be there soon.

Cheers

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P.S. My friend Dan ordered the hot dog above. What are you, 12, Dan?

Trademark Burger

The basics. That’s really what livin’ is all about. When something’s not working, we as humans like to go back to the basics and do what we did best for years. Soho went back to the basics last month. They got tired of their tofu vegan fusion with an octopus leg mixed with quinoa and wild herbage con pomegranate fava bean crap, and added Trademark Burger. They serve burgers, dogs, and shakes the American way, no frills, no fancy weird health ingredients. Weenie fans, do you want to know what health is? The dogs are 100% pure grass-fed beef. That’s my health. That’s my fancy. That is my foie gras, and nobody had to force feed a goose, stand in a line of hipsters, or write a food blog to get it. (Oops.)

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It can’t even fit in the bun! The Trademark Dog runs a measly 4 bucks, and comes with ketchup, mustard, and kraut. I found this interesting at first, especially in NYC where the combo is usually just mustard and kraut. Ketchup is an odd addition. But, my friends, here we have something different. The mustard is YELLOW! God Bless America, French’s original yellow mustard is back after a long divorce and happy with it’s original partner, traditional ketchup. Quite honestly, if I had it my way I’d get rid of the kraut, but hey, it’s New York. I have to give major props to the owners/chef of Trademark for using yellow mustard here. It takes courage, and while it may not mean much, I have noticed.

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Now, we must talk about the dog itself. I’m going to go ahead and say it, this is the best quality hot dog I’ve had in Manhattan. First, there is the snap. Far better than the crackle and the pop, this weenie has the snap heard ’round the world with an ability to start wars. Then, there is the flavor. I don’t know what it is about feeding a cow grass, but it makes that cow taste a whole lot better than whatever else it was eating. Beefy juicy excellence oozes from the casing once chomped upon. What I do know is that there is no way I am walking into a cannibal village after eating a bunch of grass. Good lord. The flavor and the snap put together make this a very high quality weenie that I highly recommend.

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Is this the reigning king?! Did Trademark overtake the Cannibal? Alas, it did not. But it came very close. It would have been nice to have a more toasted bun, or the option of some sort of chili. I know, I don’t like things too fancy, but just a tad more variety could have been nice. The point of this post is that Trademark is an excellent new spot in Soho serving up the basics with perfection. Go there, weenie lovers, and when you do, don’t forget the milkshake. It’ll definitely bring this boy to the yard.

Cheers

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