The perfect hot dog

I love hot dogs. Meat, bun, mustard. What’s not to love? And growing up in New York, it was easy to indulge: there’s a hot dog stand on every street corner in Manhattan. These “dirty water dogs”, as New Yorkers are wont to call ’em, aren’t great food, but they’re most certainly good. And they’re convenient: they’re nearly perfect walk-and-eat food. When you’re done, you have a tiny wrapper to toss. You’d be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who hasn’t eaten a ton of these.

Much better than the dirty-water dogs are the various “Papaya” hot dog locations: Papaya King, the original; Gray’s Papaya, my favorite, and others like Papaya Dog. Many post-alcohol-binge late nights of my youth have been spent downing two or three of these, with or without various juice drinks the stores serve.

After I wrote yesterday about wanting to buy a hot dog broiling machine, Y suggested I open a hot dog stand, as a way of justifying such an extravagant and otherwise useless purchase. Since I’m always looking for some business I can run, I figured I’d look into it, if only to know what it would take.

Alas, Gray’s Papaya doesn’t even have a website (it’s “under construction”), so I’m sure they don’t have any franchise opportunities. Papaya King does have a website and franchise opportunities, so maybe I’ll dig into them a bit more just to see what it might cost.

While I was doing the various Google-based searches1, I came across the requisite discussions on which hot dog is better, Gray’s Papaya, Papaya King, Nathan’s, etc. Many of the reviewers stated similar sentiments: the hot dog situation in New York is pitiful.


Because the hot dogs are long, thin, and don’t come bacon-wrapped, covered in avocado, or slathered with chili. It struck me: if you need that stuff on your hot dog, you’re really not there for the hot dog. Either you love the taste of a well-made hot dog, preferably grilled on one of those rotating ‘dog cookers, or the ‘dog is merely a conveyance for the various toppings you can stack on it.

I say: a really good ‘dog needs nothing but a thin stripe of spicy brown mustard. Anything else is uncivilized.

When Y and I were in New York for a few days last week, we stopped by a Papaya King late one night, since there wasn’t a Gray’s close to our hotel. While the ‘dog was good, it wasn’t great. I regret that Y’s first NY hot dog wasn’t the best example of what it could be.

Our next trip will have to include a jaunt to East 72nd Street and Broadway to visit Gray’s Papaya.

  1. Forgive the double-speak; I’d hate for Google to sue me for verbing their noun.

One thought on “The perfect hot dog”

  1. Sadly, hot dogs appear to have gone the way of coffee. There are very few places these days that actually have drinkable espresso. For this area, I’ve found Barefoot Coffee Roasters (on Stevens Creek) and that’s it. Everybody wants their soy milk and vanilla and sugar and shit. The coffee is the excuse to get all that other crap, and that’s why Starbucks is in business.

    Is Starbucks Coffee actually coffee? The answer to that is the same as the answer to this: Is a McDonald’s hamburger a hamburger? Sadly, I don’t know that answer to that either.

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