********************************THE FOOD WARS****************************
Thanks for the compliment.
Now, about hot dog tastes. The quick answer is, who knows?
There are some places that have acquired reputations over the years, like Hot Dog Johnny’s, Buttzville, NJ, that really don’t put out a great hot dog. But they have that cachet.
The last time I was there, people were waiting on line, and this young Gen X couple from out of state was so enthralled that they were there that they could hardly control their excitement. They bought a shirt, a hat, a this, a that. And probably a couple of dogs, too. The dogs are just OK. But gosh, you’re at the legendary hot dog Johnny’s.
However, Hot Dog Johnny’s wasn’t always famous, I speculate. I think they’ve been around since the 1940s. So, it took a lifetime or two to acquire that kind of mystique.
Probably one of the very best hot dog deals in these parts is at COSTCO. It’s a 1/4 lb. Hebrew National, free rein at the fixins’ bar, and a large refillable soda for less than $2 last time I was there.
Yet, there isn’t much history there. No great story about some fearless Aunt who carried the first hot dogs across enemy lines to feed the Resistance, and then later settled in Hoboken after the War, where FDR himself would come with his dog Fala to have a few with mustard and sauerkraut..
I know, personality helps. I’m at the point now where if the people aren’t very, very nice to me, I’m not coming back. Aside from life preservers and emergency surgery, there is no purveyor of goods and services who could win my patronage without seeming, at least, like they really appreciate my business. Of course there’s sometimes a fine line between being treated nicely and being patronized.
Personal space is important, too. And sometimes it’s not fair of the customer. But that’s show biz. Here’s what I mean. I go to a sub shop run by a very astute entrepreneur. The place is immaculate. The food is fresh, and the service is good. Sometimes I feel like talking, and sometimes I don’t. He’s learned to judge my mood. And if he minds, he doesn’t seem to show it.
I guess this is why I’ve always been very wary of going into the food business, despite coming from a family and extended family that has been involved in all aspects of the food business, from manufacturing, to catering, to being known for making the best knish in Philly. Really!
The public is fickle, the customer is always right and the work, she ain’t easy. But then, you overhear two customers wax enthusiastic—"Gee, fuhhgeddaboutit, this ScreenBear guy really makes the best Italian Hot Dog in the whole world, or at least New Jersey"—and it seems to be all worthwhile: the crossing of the Maginot line, getting across the Argonne Forest with the frankfurters, the bag starting to drip, the enemy German Shepherds smelling the franks, hot on your tail, and all along you trying to reach the resistance forces, the….the…the…
You get the idea.