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Posts Tagged ‘chili dogs’

Castleberry Hot Dog Chili Sauce Review


Castleberry Hot Dog Chili SauceI’ve written quite  a bit about coney island style hot dogs, including my version of the origin of the dog, courtesy of American Coney in Detroit; my home town favorite in Duluth, MN, and some other regional versions like Nu-Way in Macon.  I’ve found very few ‘make at home’ preparations that I liked, today I picked up a can of Castleberry’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce.

Recipes for ‘coney sauce’ vary wildly around the country, from a pure meat-based sauce, to meat and beans, and in parts of the south, “hot dog sauce” takes the form of a red, watery, heavily onion-flavored topping.  There’s a region of Michigan were the primary component is beef hearts; other places I have been actually use ground hot dogs in their concoction.

Castleberry’s is made of beans, beef fat, water, tomato, mustard, salt, and other flavorings and colors.  In the can (pictured left) Castleberry’s resembles (to me) refried beans; the smell is reminiscent of vegetable beef soup.

It’s a ‘medium’ consistency, not particularly thin, not particularly thick.  The flavor is predominantly “chili-like’, meaning the cumin really comes through. It’s salty, as well, which is unusual for me to notice, as I am an ‘over-salter’.

Would I purchase it again? Possibly.  So far, though, my favorite “home-made” sauce comes from the dry packets of one of Cincinnati’s favorites, Skyline.

Castleberry says on their website they are the leading brand of hot dog chili sauce in America.  If you can’t find it near you, you can order online.

Finished product featured Milwaukee’s Usinger’s Beef/Pork franks in a lamb casing, garden onions, Plochman’s yellow mustard, and buns from Pan O Gold Bakery in St. Cloud, MN.

You can gets some Castleberry’s online from our little store.

If you’re a curious person like me, you’ve probably always wondered why there isn’t a mustard museum.  There is!  The National Mustard Museum is located just outside of Madison, WI. Open seven days.

Castleberry Hot Dog Chili Sauce

Hot Dog Chili Sauce Review


The Varsity Reviews – Atlanta, GA


The Varsity AtlantaAlthough I had heard about it for years, in all the times I have been to , I had never made time to visit the Varsity. I was there last week, and oh, so many years wasted.

For the unwashed, the Varsity is the world’s largest hot dog stand. Covering two acres in downtown , with parking for 600 cars, and seating for 800, the Varsity has been dishing up dogs, burgers, fries, rings, and their famous “Frosted Orange” beverage since 1928 under the watchful eye of Frank Gordy and his descendants.

Initially operating under the name “The Yellow Jacket” Gordy served hot dogs and bottled Coca-Cola (what else in ?) to Georgia Tech students. Not wishing to limit his clientele to one particular school, the name change came shortly thereafter, along with the move to the present location.

When you sidle up to the counter, and hear the famous cry from the clerks: “What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?” it helps to know the proper retort. There’s much more, but this will get you past the basics of ordering:

  • Hot Dog: Hot dog with chili and mustard
  • Heavy weight: Same as hot dog but with extra chili
  • Naked Dog: Plain hot dog in a bun
  • MK Dog: Hot dog with mustard and ketchup
  • Regular C Dog: Hot dog with chili, mustard and ketchup
  • Red Dog: Ketchup only
  • Yellow Dog: Mustard only
  • Yankee Dog: Same as a yellow dog
  • Walk a Dog (or Steak): Hot dog to go
  • Steak: Hamburger with mustard, ketchup, and pickle
  • Chili Steak: Hamburger with Varsity chili
  • Glorified Steak: Hamburger with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato

There are 5 locations these days . But the original is the place for the complete Varsity experience. Bring the kids, but not much money. A meal at the Varsity is well under five bucks. Unless you order like I do.

The Varsity on Urbanspoon


varsity atlanta reviews


Thumann’s Natural Casing Beef Hot Dogs


Thumann's Hot DogsI had my cap set on some natural casing hot dogs the other day; after all, I had just received a new shipment of Skyline Chili in the post, and I needed something to slather it on!

Natural casing hot dogs are my favorite, but not America’s – less than 5% of the hot dogs sold in the US coming in casings (sheep intestines, usually).   People that prefer NC dogs like the “snap” one gets when biting in to the dog; an additional plus is the casing locks in flavor and juices.  I enjoy both attributes of this type of wiener.

Being as the masses like the skinless dogs, that’s what you’ll find in most groceries.  I had to hit four stores before scoring my dogs the other day.  Store # 3 usually has Boar’s Head in the deli case, but they were out, so it was on to Sheridan Fruit Market; Sheridan whips up about 30 different kind of sausages on site their meat counter, I figured franks would be among them.

I figured wrong.  But Sheridan also has a separate deli counter, featuring New Jersey’s Thumann line.   They had a pack of weenies just for me.   The Thumann’s natural casing beef wieners are a bit over-sized – six to a package, and retail for just north of $7, a bit spendy for a grocery dog.    But you get what you pay for.

And Thumann’s packs a punch of flavor.  Most of America’s hot dogs are rather bland affairs, I’ve heard people describe them as “basically rolled up bologna,” but Thumann’s follows a more traditional “old world” recipe, and the delicate flavor of the combination of herbs and spices is quite evident, and enjoyable.  The “snap” is great.

Most hot dogs we purchase are pre-cooked, and thus require only reheating at home.  Natural casing dogs require a “gentle” reheating, so as to not split the casing open during the cooking process.   You’ll hear many different methods of doing this, whether it’s boiling water, shutting it off, and letting the dogs take a hot water bath for five minutes;  slow grill;  simmer; steam.    For today, I did low and slow in a skillet.

I like the Skyline “chili”, and I have that word in quotes, because in a fair amount of the country, you’ll see a product like this referred to as “hot dog sauce.”  The Midwest version is usually minced ground beef in a tomato-based sauce, with herbs and spices.  Ohioans like some cinnamon in the mix.   In the Deep South, you’ll find onion-based sauces.

I prefer the Midwestern style, as it was what I was first exposed to, at my all time favorite go-to dog place, Deluxe Coney Island in Duluth.  The Duluth version doesn’t include cinnamon, but today, in Portland, Oregon, at 330 AM in my kitchen, the Skyline Chili was just what the doctor (some doctor, somewhere, certainly not mine!) ordered!

Skyline Chili





Southern California – Original Tommy’s


Last time I wrote about Original Tommy’s, I compared it somewhat to “Original Ray’s” pizza in NYC. Lots of folks put “Ray’s” in the name of their pizzerias in NY, lots of folks put “Tommy’s” or some variation of it, in the name of their burger joints in SoCal. There is the “original” Original; just plain Tommy’s; Tom’s Thom’s: Thoma’s”, and on. Accept no substitute, only the “original” Original Tommy’s will do. You know it’s them if they have a pic of their original stand in the logo!

They’re everywhere, it seems. (see location map). Lucky for me, cause I was a might hungry on the way to lunch, and a small order of Original Tommy’s chili fries is just what the doctor ordered. (Actually, my doctor would be horrified, but my lawyer – that’s a different story!)

Now in its seventh decade, Original Tommy’s is the go-to place for burgers, dogs, and fries, smothered in their delicious, original recipe of chili!

Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers on Urbanspoon


Duluth, MN – Coney Island Deluxe


The place that started it all, for me, at least in regards to my passion for “chili dogs.”  John and Peter Regis, (more Greeks!), started it all a million years ago.  Used to be 3 for a buck.  Now they are like 1.75 each.  Worth every farthing.  I used to be able to eat 6 @ a pop, now I top out @ 3.  I’ll have to get in shape and try for 6 again.   Coneys from Deluxe have played a significant part in every family event we have ever had!  Even out of state (thanks to my brother lugging the components around!). Two locations, downtown 1st Street, and also Miller Hill Mall. There is “another” Coney Island in town. Not the same folks or recipe.

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