I agree, for the most part with what HiHat posted. Just look at Nathans. There is so much variation between the individual stores. In fact, many people on this site have a negative opinion of Nathans because of the low quality of the product at many locations. Some use the skinless dogs and prepare them on a roller grill. Others use old dogs that have been sitting on the griddle or roller grill too long. My town had 2 Nathans that served the same natural casing dogs as the Coney Island Nathans and prepared them on the griddle. But they weren’t cooked long enough resulting in a subpar dog.
Hot Dogs are very regional. Without going into too much detail, there are 2 main types of dogs in the eastern U.S. One is a beef/pork blend. This type of dog is also more common around most of the country than the other type, which is a more well seasoned kosher style all beef dog. People that like the spicier dog think others are bland. Those who like the beef/pork blend, even a quality dog like Thumanns, Sahlen’s, Grote & Weigel, etc. say that the all beef dogs are too spicy. Or just don’t like the garlic/paprika flavor.
I do disagree with the statement that "Jersey prefers (or may be more accustomed to)a pork and beef dog made locally vs. a Vienna Beef dog". The main reason that New Jerseyans for the most part don’t get the Chicago style dog isn’t because they prefer beef/pork dogs to Vienna dogs. In Jersey, beef/pork dogs and all beef dogs that are spicier than Vienna are in abundance. Most people who eat hot dogs regularly have been exposed to both types. Although deep fried dogs (pork and beef) are more common in the northern part of the state, most Jersey hot dog lovers have tried these as well. While some people prefer both styles, there are a lot who are partial to one or the other.
I’ve found that there are 2 main reasons why Chicago dogs aren’t liked as well here as other areas. One is the unique toppings. This was stated in the previous post. The perception here is that "if you want a salad, get it on the side." This is what I thought until a guy opened a place selling authentic Chicago dogs with the ingredients shipped in from Chicago. I’ve gone so much, that I’ve aquired a taste for them. And he is doing well with a steady base of customers. The other reason is that people around here who prefer all beef dogs are used to brands like Sabrett, Hebrew National, Nathan’s, or Best which have more flavor. While Vienna is spicier than a beef/pork dog, it doesn’t have the spiciness of the other beef dogs that people grew up with. The reality is that Vienna has a flavorful, but subtler blend of spices. The more I eat this dog, the more I like it. In fact this dog, being milder than other beef dogs, blends in better with the ingredients on a Chicago dog. I enjoyed one today at J’s Beef in Linden, the only place I know of in Jersey, New York, or Connecticut that serves a truly authentic Chicago Style Dog.
In many, if not most parts of the country, the focus is more on toppings such as chili or slaw than on the dog itself. This is particularly true of the South. I’ve heard people say that the dog doesn’t matter; it’s just a holder for the toppings. And what passes for a hot dog in many places is bland even by the standards of those who like a quality milder beef and pork based dog.
Sorry to go off on a tangent, but what I’m trying to do is echo what HiHat said about hot dogs being regional.