With the start of baseball season, millions of fans are preparing to devour ridiculous amounts of hot dogs across the country. Many stadiums have signature hot dogs related to the regional tastes of their city, or even the stadium itself. Philadelphia is known as a cheesesteak and roast pork town, but Phillies games have always been one of the best places in the city to eat a hot dog—especially with "Dollar Dog Night" and the Philly Phanatic's air powered hot dog launcher.
For the 2010 season, Citizens Bank Park is getting into the signature hot dog game for the first time, and recently put three different Philly hot dogs up for a vote.
First up: the Olde Philadelphia Dog with Amish Pepper Hash, mustard, and a pickle on a poppy seed roll. Definitely my pick for our signature dog, with more than just a nod to Philadelphia's unique old-school pepper hash hot dogs, still available at Lenny's in the northeast and the Hot Dog Truck at 24th and Passyunk.
Next up is the Citizens Bank Park Summer Dog, with fresh cucumbers, pickled onions, and ancho chile mayo on a pretzel roll; sort of a cross between a soft pretzel, chicago dog, and banh mi.
Last is the South Philly Dog, with broccoli rabe, roasted long hot peppers and shaved sharp provolone on seeded Italian bread—basically a roast pork italian with the pork switched out for a weiner.
All of the variations up for vote are all-beef skinless Hatfield franks, split down the middle and grilled in a good amount of oil, almost approaching deep-fried territory. The split-and-grilled style is fairly common in older Philadelphia and Pennsylvania hot dog joints, and a good way to get some flavor and texture into an otherwise very mild frank.
Not a huge surprise, the South Philly Dog was the clear favorite, with 46 percent of the vote. The Summer Dog was probably too close to a Chicago Dog for most Philadelphians, and the only people that seem to care about or even remember hot dogs with pepper hash are people who were alive during the Depression (and a few food writers). I really wish the stadium would just keep all three on the menu for the rest of the season.
You might be thinking, where's the Cheesesteak and Whiz dog? where's the pork roll? The team of chefs and executives at Aramark (who oversee all the food at the stadium) did a good amount of research and development, sifting through hundreds of ideas and several tastings before whittling it down to three versions that would be practical to serve in large quantities and appeal to the masses.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently ran a terrific article outlining the whole signature dog selection process. Some of the other concepts were hot dogs topped with mac and cheese, a hot dog jammed into a mini Italian hoagie, hot dog and scrapple on a pretzel roll, a cheesesteak and whiz dog, and a bacon and Yuengling lager-braised Kraut dog on a potato roll. That last one sounds great to me.
Do I think a broccoli-rabe and longhot topped hot dog craze is going to sweep the city? Probably not. I'd rather have those things on a roast pork sandwich, or even better, braised tripe and veal. But I give Aramark some points for putting a dog up for the vote that has some roots in Philly history, and for taking the extra step of serving the dogs grilled, a lot more work than just pulling them out of a steam bath.
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.