Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Gourmet" Hot Dogs

So, the missus and I went to one of those “gourmet” hot dog places recently. Now, I gotta say, I have nothing but respect for the Hot Dog; It’s all-American, a perfect size to squelch a hunger without making you feel full, and it has a lot of room for individualization through toppings. And one simply can’t go to a Sox game without Ballpark Frank! It’s a good, good thing.

But, it is, after all, just a hot dog. These hot dog places, which appear to be riding on a nostalgic wave of novelty as much as, (or more than,) any really product demand niche, charge prices one would expect of “gourmet” but not of “hot dog.”

I paid $3.50 for a dog on a roll with mustard, onion and peppers. (Coincidentally, this was also the cost of two packages of eight Oscar Mayer “Bun-Length” turkey dogs at Stop & Shop!) It was a good dog, but nothing otherworldly, (and not worth three and a half bucks.)

(Cue the "reminiscing-old-fogey" mode:)

I remember a time when a person could get “Two Hot Dogs for a Dollar” at The Pump-N-Pantry, (a local gas station/convenient store.) And not crappy, week-old, formerly-foods, either. Decent franks, freshly made.

In fact, partaking in this twin wonders bargain was part of my standard M.O. when taking a woman out for a second date. 

Yes, I said, second.

You see, for a first date, I would always pull out the stops and go someplace big and fancy, and go for all the bells and whistles; Drinks, appetizers, entrées, deserts, entertainment, the works. And happily drop a wad o’ cash in the process. 

"Hmmm... Very impressive, Mr. Big Spender!"

HOWEVER, for the second date, we were looking at the Pump-n-Pantry and a coupla’ franks. Oh, and share a fountain soda. This served three very important functions; 1) It very clearly passed the message, "Sometimes things are good, sometimes, not so much," 2) it saved me some cash after the first date's expensive meal, and 3) it frequently saved me from having to spend any time or money on any “third” dates. But if, on that rare chance there was a third date after the Pantry’s “two-fer” deal, that was a special woman! (I say this, but to this day, my wife vehemently denies going here with me.)

In any case, I fear that these trendy new Dog stands aren’t going to last too much longer. With the economy and the very nature of hot dogs as anti-gourmet, Franks may soon go back to being relegated to the sales from carts or trucks with a more or the staple of the backyard barbecue, where they belong.

Incidentally, it took a great deal of effort to not use terms like "mustered," "catch up," "relish," et cetera, while writing this. I just wanted that acknowledged.

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