Skip to comments.July 4th Hot Diggety Dog
Posted on 07/09/2013 11:41:19 AM PDT by nickcarraway
A summer staple at my 1960′s family barbeques was the ritual hot dog competition not in competitive eating but dissecting who made the best toothsome well turned frank.
The mouth-watering aroma of grilling franks wafting through the suburban air sparked the inevitable debate about who made the best hot dog.
There was fierce loyalty and intense competition.
The faithful kosher deli coalition whose Hebrew National dogs were grilled flat on a gas griddle to a crispy puckering finish, scoffed at the sacrilege of the dirty water dogs languishing in a warm water bath sold by the city street vendors, whose devotees swore by the steamed Sabretts, heaped high with rich day-glo orange-colored sweet-tart onion sauce.
Loyalists to NYCs West Side Greys Papaya formed an unlikely alliance with their East Side rival Papaya King, both of which thought it blasphemous to wash down a frank with anything but papaya juice, certainly never an orange drink, even if the frank dressed with mustard relish and nestled in a buttered toasted bun was Good like Nediks!
For some the pontificating took on the seriousness of a rabbinic argument, though in actuality it more closely resembled a bunch of kids arguing over which were the best baseball cards, Topps in the nickel wax pack or Bazookas cut from panels on the gum boxes, and like both discourses, no one ever won the dispute.
But on one point they agreed.
No one dared tamper with that most sacrosanct of hot dogs the one consumed on Coney Island on Surf and Stillwell Avenues-Nathans.
Its the Wurst
With the dexterity and skills of a fencer, Dad nimbly poked and prodded the franks on the grill. Normally the only dogs to sizzle on our Weber were those approved by a Higher Authority, Hebrew National, but as a surprise my grandfather had brought us cartons of gen-u-ine New York Yankee- approved-Stahl Meyer hot dogs direct from their Ridgewood Queens factory.
The boxes of pork and beef frankfurters were more than likely a token of thanks to my pawnbroker grandfather from a Stahl Meyer delivery truck driver with a penchant for poker who had pawned his Timex for the umpteenth time.To show his appreciation for my grandfathers leniency, he had made an unscheduled delivery to Edelstein Brothers Pawnshop on his regular route supplying dogs to Yankee stadium
The very mention of a Stahl Meyer hot dog brought boyish grins across generations of Dodger and Giants fans, instantly transporting my curmudgeon great Uncles and their broad beamed sons from the comfort of their webbed aluminum lawn chairs to the hard, gray painted, wood slatted seats of the bleachers of the old Polo Grounds and Ebbitts Field.
Even those observant Jews like my Great Uncle Leo who would never dream of eating a hot dog that wasnt kosher, crossed a sacred boundary with ease at a baseball game.
Like eating at a Chinese Restaurant, age-old prohibitions were suspended for the day, as he willingly succumbed to the enticing aroma of a steamy Stahl Meyer dog fished out of rapidly cooling water by vendors dressed in white lugging around iron trays shouting Theyre skinless and boneless and harmless and homeless as they bounded up and down the narrow aisles.
illustration barbecue suburbs For some members of my family any hot dog that wasnt a kosher Hebrew National, might well have been the same as barbecuing bacon.
As Dad casually nudged the plump Hebrew Nationals to one side of the grill, my great Aunt Rena watched like a hawk making certain that a rogue Stahl Meyer frank did not accidentally defect over to the other side of the barbecue. It wasnt just that these franks were not sanctified by rabbinic law, no it was far worse.
These dogs had Deutschland written all over them.
As if the factory was on the Rhine and not Ridgewood Queens, Aunt Rena shuddered at the thought of some former Bund Deutscher Madel blue-eyed blonde, meat-packing Fräulein fondling the Fuhers frankfurters in their natural casings, while lustily humming the Nazi anthem Horst Wessel song.
couple eating Hot Dogs and vintage wwii illustration Hitler Vintage Ad (L) Skinless Franks 1948 (R) Vintage Saturday Evening Post Cover 7/31/43 illustration Kenneth Stuart Ridgewood, where the hot dogs were manufactured was a notoriously German neighborhood.
Not surprisingly, Aunt Rena was not the only family member who was convinced its many multi family row houses built-in the 1920s by Germans for Germans , brick by golden-colored Kreischer brick, was still populated by men in brown shirts, black Jack boots and wide Sam Browne Belts, rank and file members of the German American Volksbund who 25 years earlier, believed in Nazi power and strength to conqueror the world who still refused to embrace Aus der traum.
As the Stahl Meyer dogs rolled perilously close to the Hebrew Nationals, a shiver of terror went through some of my relatives, as if Joseph Goebbels himself had cheerfully stuffed those plump terra-cotta tubes with not only pork and spices, but a hefty serving of Nazi propaganda for good measure.
When it came to Germany, a wall had already been built by my family, beating the Russians by a full decade.
I’ve never had a Stahl Meyer dog but for me, the best ones are the Maple Leaf natural casing franks. Followed very closely by Saugy Dogs in Rhode Island. They gotta have that **snap** when you bite ‘em.
Nice little piece until it degenerated into the Hitler-Goebbels-Nazi rant.
Maple Leaf, best hot dogs ever. Widespead distribution of them in MA ended during the 1990s, IIRC. A couple of times a year, a small supermarket chain near me gets them in.
The best `brats’ got snap when you bite ‘em. The ones I ate in Germany required a sound set of choppers.
Not a New York native, so Hebrew National is my nearest authentic experience. Coney Island style, of course.
I enjoy all types of bratwurst but the ones I love best are actually called Weisswurst in Germany. Mild, pale and they got **snap**. Boar's Head makes a dandy. Love them with brown mustard.
Gotta go. Time to light the grill!
I dig your tagline which in Arabic is “Lan Astaslem”.
Deployed to Uzbekistan in 2003. Our cookouts featured burgers and bratwurst which played mind games with our local guests since `brat’ is `brother’ in Russian. Liked our tour there; Uzbeks are laid back Muslims who enjoy their vodka. Their women are absolute knockouts and hate burkas & veils.
The folks at Market Basket stores in MA have their own house brand of frank/dog that is very, very, very close to the Maple Leafs dogs. The package almost looks the same. They sell Kayem too but those aren't as good.
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