Tag Archives: hot dogs

Get Yer Hot Dogs Here!

May 3, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The distinctive “ping” of a baseball meeting a metal bat signals the start of a two-and-a-half-week lovefest in June known as the College World Series. Omahans will once again enjoy a front-row seat to this rite of summer, just as they have since 1950.

They will watch RVs filled with Louisiana State University fans stream into town, whether or not the purple-and-gold team makes it to The Show; they will listen to showtunes warbling out of the classic 1947 Hammond organ at TD Ameritrade Park, home of the CWS; and they will help consume an ungodly amount of hot dogs.

“Hot dogs go hand-in-hand with baseball. They’re near and dear to people’s hearts,” Tyler Humphrey says. He should know. As executive chef at TD Ameritrade, Humphrey and his team spend months planning, creating, and taste-testing new entries into the ballpark’s cuisine—offerings fit for a five-star restaurant, from calzones to cake. But he knows ahead of time what to order in bulk.

“We can put many different food options out there, but when you look at your top-three sellers, hot dogs will be right there in the mix, if not at the top,” he says.

The Americanization of a German and Austrian food staple began in ballparks 120 years ago. Historians, including Ken Burns in his definitive documentary Baseball, single out British immigrant and veteran concessionaire Harry Stevens for discovering the perfect stadium fare.

One cold spring day in 1901 at the old Polo Grounds, home of the New York (baseball) Giants, Stevens realized the ice cream wasn’t selling. He sent out for German “dachshund sausages,” boiled them, slipped them into rolls, and had his hawkers go into the stands shouting, “Get ’em while they’re hot!”

The current $2.4 billion-a-year American hot dog industry owes a tip of the cap to ballparks big and small, and Omaha adds to the kitty.

Last year, CWS fans ate nearly 50,000 of the park’s all-beef franks. The total number does not include sales of the hot dog’s pork-based cousins, sausage and bratwurst.

As for toppings, the basics still rule.

“We do a quarter-pound hot dog called the 10th Street Classic, which is pretty popular here. But it’s simple—just caramelized onions, green sweet relish, and yellow mustard,” Humphrey says. “In the end, that’s how I’m going to have [my hot dog].”

Simplicity doesn’t keep the chef and his culinary crew from having fun and mixing things up. They present four or five new “loaded” dog options every season. The unveiling of the 2018 CWS menu occurs a week before the first pitch.

Past loaded favorites include Humphrey’s ode to his small-town Iowa roots, the Hawg Dog. “Iowa is known for pork, so we loaded the hot dog with pulled pork, candied bacon, and spicy pork rinds,” he says. “We’ve come so very far from chili and cheese sauce.”

But in Omaha, land of the Runza and home of the Reuben, do hot dogs make it to first base outside the ballpark?

“Absolutely,” says Kelly Keegan, restaurant owner and president of the Omaha Food Truck Association. In 2012, the Omaha native put his money where his taste buds are and bought the Chicago Dawg House, located in Midtown Crossing. This mecca for Chicago foodies leads a list of favorite local dog joints.

UPDATE: At the end of April, after this edition of Omaha Magazine went to press, Keegan closed the brick-and-mortar location for Chicago Dawg House to deal his weenies exclusively via food truck.

Top Dogs in the Metro

Chicago Dawg House

3157 Farnam St. (closed, now food truck only)
Owner Kelly Keegan gets his hot dogs from Chicago, so little wonder the Traditional Style Hot Dawg is the biggest seller in this Cubs-themed restaurant. The all-beef dawg comes on a steamed poppy seed bun with tomato, pickle spear, neon green relish, onions, yellow mustard, sport peppers, and celery salt. In Chicago, putting ketchup on a hot dog will get your tie clipped. But Keegan insists, “I’m not a purist.”
UPDATE: Find current food truck location info on Facebook via “Chicago Dawg House Omaha.”

B&B Classic Dogs

1020 Lincoln Road (Bellevue)
The arcade draws the kids, the wine and beer attract Offutt Air Force Base personnel, and a Disney World of toppings (including peanut butter and bacon or marshmallow sauce) brings in the masses. Every year, B&B employees dream up a loaded dog recipe for each team in the CWS. May the best team, and dog, win.

B&G Tasty Foods

7900 W. Dodge Road
In the same location since 1953 and retaining its ’50s charm, B&G bills itself as the “Home of the Loose Meat Sandwich.” But the hot dogs, chili dogs, foot longs, and veggie dogs sell like hot cakes. Wash them down with the Shake of the Week.

Wanton Wontons

Block 16

1611 Farnam St.
Block 16 owner Paul Urban credits his wife, Jessica, for creating the blockbuster Crab Rangoon Dog. They wrap a wonton around an Imperial Wagyu frank, fry it, slather Crab Rangoon cheese mix on a toasted sourdough roll, and add sweet chili sauce, Sriracha, and scallion. “It blew up. Everybody loves it,” Urban says.

Beer ‘n’ Brats

Barchen Beer Garden

6209 Maple St.
Bless the Germans for perfecting the confluence of salt and suds. At this authentic beer garden in Benson, diners can feast over a wooden board filled with eight different sausages, brats, and pretzel buns. Ask manager Andrew Miller for the correct pronunciation of Barchen.

Blatt Beer & Table

Three locations in Omaha:
North Downtown, 610 N. 12th St. 
Shops of Legacy, 2835 S. 170th Plaza 
Flagship Commons, 10000 California St. 
The Omaha-based bar and restaurant started south of TD Ameritrade Park in 2012 and takes its name from now-demolished Rosenblatt Stadium, the longtime home of the CWS in South Omaha. The concept, with three locations in town, has even expanded to Dallas, Texas. The magazine Men’s Journal named Blatt’s Vegan Currywurst among its list of “10 Awesomely Innovative Hot Dogs.” The namesake-inspired Blattwurst features a jalapeño Polish sausage or beer-braised bratwurst.

Vis Major Brewing Co.

3501 Center St.
While co-owner Tom Clements brews in the back of this new craft beer destination in the Hanscom Park neighborhood, his wife, Lindsey, takes care of the front of the house, serving up Polish sausage and beer-braised brats. Try the Buffalo, Philly, or Vietnamese Banh Mi brats and then grab some Truffle Popcorn.

Veggie Weenies

Fauxmaha Hot Dogs

Locations Vary (updated on Facebook)
Mick Ridgway’s vegan dog experiment has hit the jackpot. His hot dog cart has morphed into a truck and the 27-year-old bounces around town with his handmade, plant-based offerings. Toppings include pickled carrots, cilantro, and fresh mint. Locations posted on Facebook (@fauxmahahotdogs).

M’s Pub

422 S. 11th St.
The Carrot Dog lives on at M’s Pub, the iconic Old Market restaurant recently risen from the ashes after a devastating fire. Marinated well over 24 hours, the carrot assumes the consistency—and grill marks—of a hot dog, but contains less guilt.

This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Counterclockwise: Vis Major’s banh mi brat, Chicago Dawg House’s traditional style dog, M’s Pub’s carrot dog, Block 16’s crab rangoon dog, Fauxmaha Hot Dogs’ classic veggie weenie, Blatt Beer & Table’s vegan currywurst, and Vis Major’s Polish sausage. Center: B&G Tasty Foods’ footlong chili dog.

Who’d Love to Have an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?

June 29, 2017 by
Photography by contributed

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is not your father’s muscle car of the 1960s.

Don’t tell that to Ashley Eisert, a 2016 University of Nebraska-Omaha graduate who relishes her job driving and promoting one of the world’s most famous vehicles.“It really does have a lot of pick-up,” Eisert says as she gets ready for another day on the job as a “Hotdogger.” (Yes, that is her official title.) “It might take a little bit to get from zero to 60, but it does have a lot of power to it. It can definitely haul bun,” she says.

If you get the feeling Eisert savors rolling in the 11-foot-tall, 27-foot-long hot dog, she does. Since last June, the former Papillion-LaVista South student has been wheeling through 27 states in one of six Wienermobiles as part of the company’s team.

In terms of famous four-wheelers, the Wienermobile ranks right up there with Doc Brown’s DeLorean, the many incarnations of the Batmobile, or—for you old-timers—that whiz-bang of a grand prix car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. All of them gained fame on the silver screen. (What do you mean you didn’t see the Wienermobile in 1992’s Ladybugs starring the late Rodney Dangerfield?)

But has there ever been such a novelty advertising vehicle that can get people to stand up through their sunroof, camera phone in hand, to honk and wave?

This bunderful story could get eaten up fast.

The first Wienermobile dates back to 1936 when Carl Mayer had an advertising idea for his Uncle Oscar: a 13-foot-long hot dog car that would travel through the streets of Chicago, advertising the meat-and-cold-cuts company that Oscar founded in 1883.

General Body Co. of Chicago made the first Wienermobile. Today the cars are constructed by Prototype Source, a Santa Barbara, California-based designer of mobile marketing vehicles. In 2004, the company started working with automotive designer Harry Bradley—best known for his Mattel Hot Wheels car designs—to completely produce the custom-made vehicles. Everything down to the windshield wipers is made special.

So what lies under the 14,050-pound vehicle? (That’s 140,500 hot dogs, according to Oscar Mayer’s official fact sheet.) The custom-made, grilled fiberglass dog sits atop a lightly-toasted fiberglass bun on a converted GM Chevrolet four-speed/W4 series chassis with a V8, 6.0 liter, 300 horsepower Vortec 5700 engine.

Each of the six Wienermobiles features a snazzy interior complete with six ketchup-and-mustard-colored captain seats, a gull-wing door with retractable steps, a removable “bunroof,” carpet featuring a condiment-splattered pattern, and sunny, blue sky ceiling art. There is storage space for thousands of Wiener Whistles, a custom-built, solar-powered stereo with a microphone system on which hotdoggers can  speak to people during parades, and a horn that plays the Oscar Mayer jingle in 21 different music genres. Oh, and it runs on unleaded and gets “thousands of smiles per gallon.”

How long does it take to build one of these specialized vehicles that is 18 hot dogs wide? “Franks for asking!” Prototype Source Owner Dorian Duke did not say.

“From the time we install the fiberglass body on a chassis to installing all the custom electrical, audio, and video, is between 16 and 22 weeks,” Duke says. “We started off with the Wienermobile, and pretty soon people were asking us to make other special product mobiles. We’ve made the Hershey’s “Kissmobile,” the Kellogg’s “Tonymobile,” the Pepperidge Farm “Goldfish,” and quite a
few others.

There is even a free Wienermobile app you can download to track the orange-and-yellow monstrosities. According to the product description, you can “relish the opportunity to ketchup with the Wienermobile” and buckle up, “ride shot-bun, pilot the big dog,” and tour the country with hotdoggers.

Yes, automotive enthusiasts, this car is a real wiener.

Visit oscarmayer.com/wienermobile for more information.

Oscar Mayer owns six Wienermobiles

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Writer Sean Weide passed away unexpectedly on May 30, 2017. He wrote only a few articles for Omaha Magazine, but they were always well-researched and well-written. I personally wish the Weide family the ability to find peace.

— Daisy Hutzell-Rodman, B2B Managing Editor.