The Cannibal: Part Deux

Have you ever been in one of those moods? You know, one of those moods where you have some time to kill before a Broadway show after work and want to get on a Citi Bike and ride really fast to this hot dog place that you wrote about two years ago and crowned as the King of NYC? No? Weird, because, I mean, it was crazy… I was in one of those moods last night!

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Behold! The Jan Ulrich. Slightly over two years ago, I discovered the Cannibal. Known for their outlandish selection of meats at their main restaurant in Chelsea, no man leaves unhappy, unsatisfied, or feeling any better about their beer gut. When I visited their Hell’s Kitchen outpost in Gotham West Market back then, there were many different varieties of hot dogs – enough to take up a section of the menu. Now, they have only two hot dog options, one of which has their homemade wieners serving as the sausage base, and the other has the familiar Brooklyn Hot Dog Co. weenies. I usually don’t like to review the same place twice. As proof I’ve even been to the main restaurant and had their dogs before (shout-out to the Feastie Boys), but since these are completely different, utilizing a different sausage base that I already know and love, I feel compelled. I mean, you’d write a new movie review of The Shining if Eddie Murphy replaced Jack Nicholson right?

Is the Cannibal still king? Well, let’s start with the topic of bacon jam. Sweet Lord have mercy on my soul. This is a creation of a millennium. Sweet, yet fatty and rich, it is the perfect sausage icing. On top of this, we have some lightly flavored bbq chip bits to add a nice crunch. They’re like croutons on a salad or seat belts in cars – not completely necessary, but really nice to have. Next, glazed on the top of this magnificent sandwich (yes, a hot dog is a sandwich), is a delectable spicy mayo. It’s much spicier than you expect and that’s how it should be. If you’re going to sit down and eat a Jan Ulrich, you’re not a pansy, you’re a giant can of testosterone from Sweden ready to devour all the other pansies in the world. Eat up Jan, you deserve it. Is the Cannibal still king? Of course it is. The best weenie in the city hasn’t changed yet, my friends. Go to this establishment ASAP.

4.6 weenies

The Cannibal

Above is the first review I wrote. Below are some useless links to social media stuff.

Cheers

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McG’s??? …in Dublin

Oy lads! Your man fancied a pint or two of Gat in Dublin and on me way to the jacks I stumbled upon this here food truck near Croke Park. (English translation: Hey, guys! I had a few glasses of Guinness beer in Dublin, and on my way to the bathroom I found a food truck outside of Croke Park.) Now, I have no idea what the name of it was and the chances of me ever being in Dublin again are very small, so that picture above with me gleefully smiling in the reflection is all we have as evidence for now. For context, Croke Park is where the GAA Men’s Hurling finals were being played, and you better believe we were rooting for Galway. Luckily, as part of this adventure, this food truck had a hot dog, and luckily, even though I wasn’t hungry, my friends convinced me to eat it. Serendipity, indeed. Cheers.

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In Dublin, all of the food is super heavy. Full Irish breakfasts come with blood sausage made out of real blood, bangers (sausage), bacon, eggs, fries, and who knows what else. Fat, greasy, and gluttonous are the three main words I’d use to describe Irish food… and also our current President. But, as I digress, the best part is that Ireland’s average life expectancy is higher than the US. This is the only data I need to justify all of my endlessly caloric culinary endeavors. So, I consumed what we have up above, a weenie loaded with ketchup, mustard, cheddar cheese, and onions. Heartburn on a bun, just how I like it.

Going from the outside in, rapid fire: the bun was fluffy, un-toasted, and sort of lacking substance. The cheese was from a bag, but lot of good things come from bags, so I liked it. The ketchup was red and the mustard yellow, as it should be. The onions were grilled, allowing a sweet glaze to caress their curves, like a freshly baked Krispy Creme donut. Then, the weenie, although a little skinny, provided a minor snap and a smoky flavor that I wouldn’t expect from a non-hot dog bearing country.

3.17 weenies

See what I did there? 3/17 is St. Patrick’s Day. Epic. So, now for the only reason I wrote this post – to share this .gif of me scarfing down a weenie and my buddy Chuck in the background makin’ a real lad face. Guys doin’ things. Lads doin’ Ireland.

Cheers

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Pig Beach

I’ve been on vacation, sorry. Can you blame me? I mean, have you ever had the chance to swim with pigs on a beach in the Bahamas? Yeah, me either. Actually, I’ve just been lazy, but I did go to Brooklyn! Some of the NY Weenies staff moved to Brooklyn this month, which has graciously broadened my hot dog horizons. My first stop in the area (after a rough Saturday morning taking a standardized test that is, shall I say, obtuse), was to the much anticipated Pig Beach BBQ. Craft beers, cocktails, and meat aplenty, it was sure to be a treat. I found myself in the kind of mood where random 1950’s expressions for excitement were most appropriate. I felt like a hybrid cross-child of Opie Griffith and Beaver Cleaver. Gee, pa. Good golly, oh boy! What a hoot!

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Yes, this is a classic yellow-mustard-only dog. Simple, elegant, and timeless. Pig Beach does offer some exotic toppings on their locally sourced Karl Ehmer dogs that I’d love to try another time – cheese, pulled pork, and pickled peppers – however, I was also hankering for a pulled pork Sammy so I didn’t want to encourage obesity. The first thing I noticed was the bun: a Martin’s potato roll, no question about it. It was also grilled, showing some char on the side, which never fails to impress if done correctly. I applied the mustard from the big jug-pump sort of simple machine, so obviously that was done to perfection. You’d be amazed at how many people do this correctly. It is literally a simple machine, like a wedge, or a wheel, or a pulley. The big jug-pump machine, duh. I’m pretty sure I was fed from a big jug-pump machine as a baby, for cryin’ out loud. BJPM baby, what a hoot.

Anyway, let us progress, both in maturity and time, to the first bite. The snap was present, not strong, but present. The flavor was robust, sort of smoky, but not over-bearing, and the overall wiener size was a little less that desired, but, overall no complaint. Also, it wasn’t quite as hot as I wanted, lacked char, and could have been cooked more. I’ll cut them a little break since it was super busy on Saturday afternoon, but, as Yogi Berra once said, “ya gotsta cook ya weenies.”

3.1 weenies

I’m happy, I’d go there again. Pig Beach is a very fun spot offering loads of tasty meats and drinks. In fact, you can buy a nice Other Half IPA and a shot of mezcal for 10 bucks. That’s enough reason to go right there. Happy weenie huntin’.

Cheers

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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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Corner of Vermont

I always thought that Vermont was a place for hippies and mountain folk, like a northern version of “Deliverance.” Then, I went there for the first time and found it to be quite beautiful and filled with decent people, like a northern version of “The Notebook.” Then, I went to the restaurant called the Corner of Vermont and found it to be truly inventive, unique, and mind-boggingly delicious, kind of like a northern version of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” I felt like Augustus Gloop in this place, eating maple weenies like it was my day job. If I wasn’t careful, I’d drown in the maple mustard just like he did in chocolate. I had to travel all the way to Park Slope Brooklyn for these wonderful Vermont weenies, and I didn’t even have a golden ticket. What a great decision.

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Notice how the sun kisses the wiener’s toppings as if it were Apollo’s own lips. There’s a reason for this: these sausages are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

On the left, we have a classic chili cheese dog done right. The chili is made in house, is outstanding, and has the perfect amount of spice. The cheese? Oh, the cheese, is 1 year old Grafton cheddar. Al Gore may! (Get it? Gourmet?)

On the right, we have “The Vermonter”, which was my favorite, mainly due to the surprise I had when I realized how good it was, and the creativity that went into it. Adorning the weenie are maple mustard, maple caramelized onions, and a sprinkle of maple sugar. True to the name, and phenomenal.

Now, the sausages. They are composed of pork, beef, and… BACON. That’s right, there is ground up bacon in the sausage. On top of that, they are huge and meaty, and have that oh so necessary snap. The grey color is at first a little off-putting, but you get over it really quick. You’ll think the exact same thing when you see the shirt I am wearing in the picture below.

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Yes indeed! I couldn’t be happier to find this place. It was a perfect start to the day, and a great discovery that I will be returning to. The owner and staff were incredibly friendly, and they do everything all natural – no nitrates, straight from the farm in Vermont. This is a real Vermont establishment, putting out genuinely awesome food and beverage. We even got to try their homemade lemonade and tea. Without too many more words, I hereby declare this hot dog the King of Brooklyn. That’s right, this is the best hot dog I have eaten in Brooklyn. The Cannibal is still #1 in NYC, but this is for sure top 5, and #1 in the biggest borough of NYC. Well done, Corner of Vermont.

4.4802 weenies

Do the numbers matter anymore? (802 is Vermont’s only area code. Tribute. Here’s another to make your mouth water.)

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Barclays Center

The worst team in the NBA and a mediocre, generally less preferred hockey team grace the center of this arena in Brooklyn. This raises many questions for me. Is there a correlation between the caliber of teams in the arena and the caliber of weenies sold at the arena? Well, the Mets were slightly better than the Yankees last year, and I’ll take a Citi Field dog over a Yankee Stadium dog any day. If the mustard that comes out of the spigot is brown and wicked, would you still lick it? Weird question, even weirder, cringe-worthy rhyme scheme. If a tree falls in the forest when nobody is around, does it make a sound? Obviously yes. Like, there’s not even a question, it’s science, of course it makes a sound. OK, I’m not good at asking mysterious questions — on to the part about wieners.

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Foot longs are always fun. They add an element of party to the hot dog that normal dogs don’t have. They are kind of like that friend you’ve always had that is an absolute blast at times, but much better in small doses. I am the kind of person that can take higher doses of foot longs compared to most people, so I was all about the fact that a foot long was an option. Barclays also offers a great condiment section, similar to Citi Field, so I was able to scoop on ample amounts of mustard infused relish as well as spicy brown mustard. Obviously, yellow is preferred, but the relish was outstanding so I was very pleased overall with the topping choices. Pickles are great. Chopped pickles on a hot dog are stellar. Chopped pickles infused with mustard on a foot long wiener?! Breathtaking.

And the rest of the experience? Not much different from other hot dogs I’ve had, with perhaps a slightly higher quality sausage. There wasn’t a snap, but it was firm and juicy with solid flavor. Apparently this place is a spin off of an actual restaurant in Wiliamsburg, the Vanderbilt, so they’re upping the ante in BK. I’ve had much worse. Toto, we’re not in Asia anymore…

3.25 weenies

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I should probably be embarrassed by that picture, but Nietzsche thinks I shouldn’t.

Cheers

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Planet Earth: Hot Dogs of Asia

A few weeks ago I traveled to Asia. Luckily, Asia isn’t the void, hot dog barren continent I thought it would be. Instead, it is a fairly westernized, hot dog imitating continent that falls far short of being worthy of the title “hot dog continent”. There can only one hot dog continent and that is America. There can only be one ‘Murica. Regardless, in total I had three hot dogs, and one was particularly epic. It was part of a 25 course tasting menu at the #1 rated restaurant in Asia… three years in a row. Let’s not save the best for last, because I don’t save and I don’t like being last.

Gaggan: Bangkok, Thailand

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What we have here are little lamb kebab dogs on little buns with little onions, little carrots, and a little sauce. The menu we see during our 3 hour long experience of utmost gluttony is only emojis. There is one emoji per course, and this one was obviously the hot dog. We had to guess what the emojis were going to be – sometimes even after the course came out and we couldn’t tell what it was. To be honest, I don’t know what the sauces were because I was so happy and immersed in the experience. I had just enjoyed an old-fashioned that was infused with Cohiba cigar smoke underneath a glass dome in front of me. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Incredible. No words. “…”

Stand Underneath the Ferris Wheel: Hong Kong

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Touristy areas have hot dogs, it’s a way of life. So did the Ferris Wheel in Hong Kong. My options were Original, Spicy, BBQ, or Cheese. I went with original, and I love how that meant, ketchup, YELLOW mustard, and relish. This was true American influence. The bun was OK, the sauces were applied with gusto, but unfortunately the sausage itself tasted like dirty brown water trash. For what it’s worth, the Ferris Wheel was pretty awesome?

Random Convenience Store Bacon-Wrapped Wiener: Phuket, Thailand

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Given this title, I’m sure you were expecting greatness. So was I. It was really disheartening to see how under-cooked the bacon was and how flavorless the hot dog was. Such a fine establishment should have done better. Welp, someone had to do it. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone… ever.

P.S. Below is a picture of the Asia boys, AKA “JUBS” getting to meet the man behind the magic at Gaggan – Gaggan Anand himself. Check him out on Netflix’s Chef’s Table if you’re interested. Also, go to Thailand if you can.

Cheers

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Pittsburgh: Essie’s Original Hot Dog Shop

Pittsburgh is known for many things. Pittsburgh is a sports town, an old steel town, a Wiz Khalifa stomping ground, and a black and yellow breeding ground. It’s a bridge town, an incline town, where Gene Kelly used to clown, and a fatty food mecca world renowned… Poetry and rhyming aside, some friendly local folks wanted to take me out for a dog, and of course I was down. I was lucky enough to go to “The Dirty O”, or more officially, The Original Hot Dog Shop, on a cold day after Thanksgiving when, like the Grinch, my stomach grew three sizes that day. I certainly couldn’t frown.

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Yep, this place is old school. The name does not lie. The first thing I noticed is that the actual restaurant is pretty run-down and old. Nothing has changed since the 80’s, but it’s a good thing. They sell weird old beers that nobody has seen in a few fortnights, and the guy selling you those beers hasn’t been able to see in a few decades. It’s like when you put on that really old, stained, torn up sweatshirt you love. You love that it’s nasty. It’s comfortable and it feels amazing. The dogs, though, are not old, stained, and torn up. They are flat out stellar.

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These weenies are such good sports. I made fun of them for hours, and they just played along. It’s amazing how thick their skin is. OHHH, Pun City! Honestly though, this is some thick skin. If you know NY Weenies, you know what skin brings: the snap. The Dirty O’s dogs possess a fat snap unlike any that New York has never seen. My favorite kind of snap resembles the moment when you pop a loosely filled water balloon. It’s a quick release followed by an avalanche of flavor. The kind of snap I experienced on this day in Pittsburgh was like puncturing a football with a butter knife. It took a lot of effort, but it was still a lot of fun, and the flavor exploded out of there like cuckoo from a cuckoo clock. The taste of the weenie was incredible, rich and smoky, and the buns lightly toasted nicely. The best part about the Original, though, is the selection of toppings they have. I didn’t see anything you couldn’t order. So, I ordered dog 1: chili, mustard, and slaw. This is the quintessential Virginia classic. I was raised on this combo. Dog 2: yellow mustard, obviously. The other dog pictured was not for me (a loyal NY Weenian would know this, as it has been said that you can’t put ketchup on a dog unless you’re under 12 years old), but the pictures looks better with 3 dogs. Maybe I should eat 3 every review?

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I loved this place and I highly recommend it to anyone travelling to Pittsburgh. Essie must have been a great woman if the owner, Syd, decided to name this wonderful place after her. Here’s to you, Essie.

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P.S. If you’re reading this and you are Syd and Essie’s child, please let me know. I’d like to meet you. You must be an incredible human being if you have any of the same DNA that those two had. The chosen one. Neo. Anakin. The baby from “Look Who’s Talkin'”. Whatever. Need you in my life.

Cheers

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Emmett’s

The Cubs won the World Series a little while ago and it inspired me. No, I wasn’t inspired by the come from behind victory, the history of the ball club, or the life-long fans of Chicago. I was rooting for Cleveland. When they lost, I was sad, and in need of a hot dog. The Cubs victory made me think of Chicago, which made me think of a windy mid-western city, Derrick Rose/Dwayne Wade, violence in the hood, and most importantly, it made me think of the Chicago-style hot dog. This weenie is an absolute classic in the hot dog world and I feel like I’ve ignored it. Thank you, Chicago Cubs, for indirectly inspiring me to write about a hot dog with a pickle on top of it.

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First – let us be sure that the readers fully understand the makings of a Chicago style dog. Toppings must include: tomatoes, pickle/pickles/relish, onions, yellow mustard, and a little pepper on top. I’ll let the presentation of the pickles vary in the definition, but I’ll be damned if I see a Chicago dog without a little pepper on top. That’s like an Old Fashioned without an orange peel, a sundae without a fake cherry, or even worse, Flava Flav without a clock. The Chicago dog has never been atop my list of regional dog styles simply because there’s too much going on. I don’t need a garden on top of my weenie. It may take a village to raise a child, but it certainly does not take a garden to enjoy a weenie. I will always respect, however, that the Chicago dog always has strictly yellow mustard. None of that spicy brown garbage get’s the Chicago seal of approval, and that makes this hot dog blogger a happy man.

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Enter Emmett’s, a Chicago themed bar and restaurant in Soho serving up deep dish pizza and other assorted vittles. This place is a very cool, popular spot where it seems many native Chicago-ans hang out. Pictured in the headline photo is their description of the featured Chicago dog. The most notable part of this weenie is the poppy seed bun. My next “never have I ever” will most certainly be the fact that I’ve never had a poppy seed bun before. It was OK. The folks at Emmett’s put a lot of effort into this dog and it payed off. The frank itself was definitely of quality, and although adorned with a garden, I could still taste some smoke in it. In a bite, one could experience a minor snap, followed by a warm, smoky weenie, quickly followed by an avalanche of garden vegetables and yellow mustard. This is very tasty, however, as I mentioned before, overbearing. I appreciate the authenticity Emmett’s offered by using a whole pickle and whole tomatoes, and I’ll say that this is the best Chicago dog I’ve ever had. However, it is still a Chicago dog, and they aren’t my favorite.

3.25 weenies

Cheers

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Steak ‘n Shake Signature

People love surprises. There’s a reason that they plan surprise parties, enjoy scary movies, watch sports, gamble, and listen to Donald Trump. In all situations, it’s impossible to predict what comes next. In my case, it was impossible to predict what happened on this brisk fall evening at Steak ‘n Shake. Sorry, Steak ‘n Shake SignatureMy experience unfolded in three simple steps.

Step 1: “Weenie Malfunction”

Remember how disappointed you were when you found out that you had to pay taxes? Match that with the disappointment I felt when I went to a very famous establishment in NYC for a weenie and the line was out the door. Terrible. It was time for plan B.

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Step 2: “Go to the bench”

I had to salvage this situation somehow. I pulled out my phone, went to Google Maps, and typed in “hot dog” near location. Up pops Steak ‘n Shake. Steak ‘n Shake was a fast food establishment I went to one time in Cleveland. So, I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I was expecting very little. So, I decided to go bash it. I haven’t bashed in a while, it could be fun. I became a grunting caveman full of emotion. Bashing, anger, destruction, NYWeenies… must… destroy… Steak ‘n Shake.

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Step 3: “Saint Peter works at Steak ‘n Shake”

Then, like bright light in a coffin of darkness, or like Tinkerbell to Peter Pan… no more anger. Show me those pearly gates!!! This most definitely was a Signature Steak ‘n Shake hot dog. I got the classic footlong and it was phenomenal. It comes in this fancy see through sleeve that when unsheathed, reveals glory. The bun is perfectly toasted. The mustard, remarkably, is yellow. As most readers will know, yellow mustard is liquid gold, and without argument the best mustard ever known to mankind. Finally, the sausage is grilled essentially perfectly. The outer edges exhibit some delicate char. Real, nice, delicate, write-home-to-your-family-about, char. Such char on such a dog, equipped with such a well toasted bun, with such a perfectly placed stripe of yellow mustard? This such equation leads such a weenie to be the king of NYC… right?!

Step 4: “An act of violence”

Nope, they cut my weenie in half. Damn it. I can’t crown a king when they perform vicious acts of violence to multiple weenies every day. That’d be like voting for Pol Pot as Surgeon General. So close, Steak ‘n Shake. Please know that I absolutely loved your hot dog, but I cannot crown you king.

4.49 weenies

It’s a weird number, I know. Whatever, who cares about my ratings anyway? At least I didn’t cut it in half.

Cheers

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