Hot Diggity Dawg!
By Cappy Hall Rearick
We hold these truths to be self evident: that every mother’s spaghetti tastes better than anybody else’s, and that every hometown has a hot dog dive serving up the best hot dogs on the planet.
No argument on the spaghetti issue, although honestly, MY mother’s spaghetti can beat YOUR mother’s spaghetti. Also, the Dairy O hot dogs in my hometown, Orangeburg, South Carolina, really are the best anywhere.
It’s only natural for folks to claim their hometown eatery to be better than anybody else’s because being loyal to hot dogs, apple pie and barbeque is the American way. Nowhere is that more true than south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
In Orangeburg way back when, there were two hot dog dives, one with curb service and one without. The place on Broughton Street was truly famous for hot dogs served to you in your car. They were ugly dogs, but who cared? A Julius’s hot dog, even today, can bring to life saliva glands in a corpse.
In Babe’s hometown, DuBois Pennsylvania, folks show up at Bailey’s when they crave a taste of yesterday. Nailed to the walls are hundreds of football, basketball and wrestling team pictures. Some of them go back as far as the forties and fifties. Bailey’s sells all manner of fast food, but their made-to-order hot dogs topped with their secret sauce, is why people keep coming back for more. I have to admit, Bailey’s puts out a pretty good of a hot dog, but … they are not as good as the ones served up at Orangeburg’s second most famous place to bug dogs: the Dairy O. It’s impossible for me to pass through the burg without stopping for one.
In Hendersonville it’s Hot Dog World, touted to be one of the best restaurants in North Carolina. I know a fellow who, when on vacation in the mountains, heads for Hot Dog World before he unpacks a suitcase. There was even one couple who actually hosted their wedding reception at Hot Dog World. (I didn’t make that up.)
Close to Duke University in Durham, Pauly’s Dogs rule. Each one, created by Pauly himself, is named appropriately. The Southern Belle is the standard h.d. with mustard, catsup, onions and Pauly’s special sauce. Aunt Jamima is a breakfast hot dog topped with maple syrup, and Cap’t Crunch is topped with you guessed it. Somehow I doubt he’s ever offered one named Fido.
St. Simons Island’s hot dog claim to fame is called Hot Dog Alley. The owner set up his business on a corner fifteen years ago, a cart on wheels often seen at county fairs and flea markets. I call them Roach Coaches, but that’s just me. He eventually bought the building on that same corner next to an alley and voila! Hot Dog Alley was re-born. A pretty good dog, but not great. But tmy opinion is jaded due to my past eating experiences at the good Dairy O in Orangeburg, SC.
Walterboro South Carolina has Dairyland and my kids, raised in that small lowcountry town, claim it to be the very best. Ehhh…
When I was a student at USC in Columbia, South Carolina, we used to go to the old Sears store in Five Points where we gobbled up the best slaw dog ever made. Sadly, the little annex hot dog joint that was hooked onto the big Sears building has been gone for more years than I can count. Only the memory of that special taste is left. But oh, what a fine memory it is.
I am on a quest to find out where the best hot dogs can be found. Tomorrow, I am going to Hendersonville to chow down on a recommended one from an appropriately named place: Piggies. I am told it is so good you won’t want to stop with just one. We’ll see.
In any case, as we approach the Fourth of July, America’s official National Hot Dog Day, I hope you’ll stop for a moment and think about that special dive you knew as a kid, the one that floods you with memories of days gone by. And by all means, stick to the July 4th menu by cooking up a bunch of dogs. Serve them to your kids and grandkids while telling them about that special place in your old hometown that served the best hot dogs on the planet.
I dare you to name one of them FIDO.