Last summer, SE and Every Day with Rachel Ray embarked on an epic road trip on a mission to find America's Best Hot Dog. We're kicking off the competition with slideshows introducing all 64 contenders, organized by region.
So far, we've told you about the East Coast contenders. Now it's time to move down South.
Before this journey, the South was a bit of a mystery to us in terms of hot dogs. I had a vague notion of slaw dogs being pretty good, but the region is more often than not overlooked in the hot dog media.The reality is that hot dogs are everywhere below the Mason-Dixon line, as much or more so than other areas considered to be the epicenters of hot doggery.
A few things that struck me about the South is that almost every hot dog joint, no matter how divey, had table service. A lot served beer (awesome) and every single place had bottles of hot sauce on the tables and along the counter, usually bright yellow and red bottles of Texas Pete.
There were a lot of surprises: top-split buns (I thought this was just a New England thing, but they're apparently common in Georgia and South Carolina too), crazy dogs topped with Thousand Island dressing, potato salad and crispy fried onions, and most of all an unparalleled Southern love and care put into the grilling, deep-frying, and slaw slathering of pretty much every hot dog we ate.
The Best of the Rest
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/.