Not since last summer's Hot Doug's excursion has a group of Serious Eaters so challenged the very fabric of what we know to be humanly possible. On that fateful day, a football team of eaters met at Chicago's most famous sausage superstore to try every single item on the menu. Not to be outdone, Los Angeles has taken up the challenge with our own snappy hot dog destination.
Recently a group of hardcore masticators set about trying every single hot dog on the menu at Pink's Famous Hot Dogs in Hollywood. For those uninitiated to the Pink's hot dog legacy, the 73-year old stand on the corner of Melrose and La Brea serves up everything from basic chili cheese dogs to double-dogs stuffed into a single bun, weighed down with guacamole, chili, cheese, onions, tomatoes, pastrami, bacon... you name it.
Mind you, the Serious Eats Chicago team seemed to whimper in fear at the idea of nearly 30 menu items. Pink's, on the other hand, boasts 39 different hot dog combinations (39!), plus five HLOs (Hotdog Like Objects) that contain at least one frank. Oh, and there were only six of us.
First, the dogs. The Pink's purveyor of choice is Hoffy, a regional all-beef frank manufacturer. They even sell a 'Hollywood's Original' package of five dogs that you can grill up right at home. Or steam, as Pink's does with all of their beef. other options include their thick, stubby Polish dogs (in both spicy and mild), plus a gargantuan jalapeño dog that measures a foot long and at roughly two inches thick. On the milder side of things, there is both a tofu or turkey dog option as well, although these certainly aren't recommended.
The potential toppings run the gamut from sensible (roughage, veggies, chili, cheese) to outrageous (cole slaw, pastrami, bacon, guacamole, tortilla chips). Some, of course, are better than others, but nearly all of them work in some combination across the 40+ item spectrum.
One note: if you're not a fan of chili on your dogs, you'll be down to less than half the menu. Chili is in abundance at Pink's, and the next time you visit you'll probably leave with more than a little bit on your clothes.
There are also a few different ways to order. There's the traditional side of things, with bacon chili cheese dogs and the like, and then there is the ever-evolving pile of ClipArt signs that are plastered across the front windows. Nearly every dog is outrageous in some way, and most are named after Hollywood notables like Marlon Brando or even Mulholland Drive. Or, you can order one of the specials, which usually involves wrapping hot dogs in giant flour tortillas (more on that in the slideshow).
Much like at Hot Doug's, the team thought it best to call ahead and let Pink's know of our intentions. Beyond the logistics of waiting in line, preparing each dog and timing out the order effectively, with more than 40 items, there is the simple issue of space.
Miraculously, the Pink family actually came out to witness our epic eating. According to owners Richard and Gloria Pink, ours is the only group to ever tackle the entire hot dog menu in a single sitting, although rumor has it that Orson Welles once ate 18 chili dogs in a single sitting, which is its own kind of record. The family was very kind to provide us with a staging area for all of our dogs, and they even offered up a few Pink's hats to wear while we chowed down. Much like Chicago's Doug Sohn, the Pink family couldn't have been more accommodating.
Now, onto the dogs! See all the photos in the slideshow!
Pink's Famous Hot Dogs