Note: For the next few weeks here at Hot Dog Of The Week we will be highlighting some of the best dogs from the 7th Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour. Enjoy!
Once you've been to more than a few hot dog stands across the country, you start to notice some common mythology. First, the legend of a lone Greek ancestor that crossed the Atlantic somewhere around 1915 with nothing but a pair of pants and a crumpled chili recipe who opened his hot dog stand with fifty cents after a trip to Coney Island. Maybe close to the truth for some of these century-old hot dog stands, but they can't all be "the original."
Second, they'll claim to have hot dogs that are specially made from a secret recipe, but they often don't reveal what company is specially making them. In most cases this is completely false. Sure, meat packers produce franks that you won't find in grocery stores, but they are usually available to any food service vendor with money to spend.
But Galloping Hill Inn may be one of the few places that really does use a "specially made dog" at least according to John Fox (aka hotdoglover), New Jersey hot dog expert and co-organizer of the New Jersey hot dog tour I went on.
Galloping Hill originally served pork and beef wieners made by nearby Gaiser's Deli. When the business changed hands in the 1980s, they stopped making traditional German wieners, and supposedly the owners of Galloping Hill got a hold of the recipe, which they sent off to Connecticut meat packer Grote & Weigel who still custom-makes these old-fashioned, natural casing dogs just for Galloping Hill.
Truth or legend, these things are seriously delicious. Grilled but not charred, the dogs are mildly spiced and have a killer snap. The chili was mild and didn't mask the flavor of the dog, although the amount of onions on there was a bit overwhelming. The homemade relish was great, closer to hot hoagie relish than anything I've had on a hot dog. The only thing I didn't like, which seemed to be the consensus of most tour-goers, were those massive rolls.
Too much bread is a common complaint from hot dog aficionados faced with gourmet or "mega" dogs that are often served on giant hoagie rolls, broiche loaves, or baguettes. I have to agree. I can see the purpose of elevating a single hot dog from a snack to an entire meal, and making more room for toppings, but for me it always throws off the bread-to-wiener-to-garnish ratio. Of course the balance problem can easily be solved by ordering their popular "double dog," two dogs on one bun.
Regardless of the bread controversy, these were hands-down some of the best dogs of the New Jersey tour, and apparently one of Jersey's favorites. They sell hundreds, sometimes thousands of these things a day. And Galloping Hill is much more than just hot dogs. Eat outside at the picnic tables or inside for a full-service menu of burgers, cheese steaks, other entrees, and beer.
Galloping Hill Inn
325 Chestnut Street, Union NJ 07083 (map)
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/.