Throwback of the House: A Study in Contrasts with Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs


When my friend Kelly gave me her copy of 1968's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Cookbook, I thought it might be hard to find a bad recipe in a book published by the company that made New York hot dogs famous. Then I saw the cover, illustrated with a photo of a glass of wine and a crown roast made of hot dogs. Even classics can bring the suck.

The Nathan's book swings from hot-dog delights to nightmares, encompassing the best and worst of human creativity.

  • Robin Wheeler
On the upside, Hot Dog Nutty Fritters. Take a Nathan's dog, butterfly it, fill the opening with peanut butter, wrap in bacon and grill. I'm from the home of the Guber Burger, so I don't have taboos about mixing peanut butter with anything. This white trash-style rumaki was damn near perfect with its oh-so-saltiness. My husband and I agreed that it's probably a bad thing that we know this recipe, because we might make it every week. For Christmas this year, we'd like gout gear because we'll surely be afflicted by then.

  • Robin Wheeler
The downside? Hot Dog Salad Dressing. For six servings, grind eight hot dogs with one-half teaspoon dry mustard, two tablespoons milk, one tablespoon pickle relish and one-third cup of mayo. Think about that for a second. That's 1.3 hot dogs per salad serving. This is nothing more than a ploy to sell hot dogs.

A better idea: Buy a package of Nathan's hot dogs. Throw directly in trash.

  • Robin Wheeler
I made one-eighth of the recipe by placing a hot dog in the food processor with the minuscule smidgens of other ingredients. One grain of dry mustard, coming right up! I put the dressing on iceberg lettuce because why would anyone put this shit on decent food? Behold! It's Nathan's Wiener Wedge!

I was disappointed that the dressing wasn't the worst thing I've ever made. It's near the bottom of the list, though. The bitter crunch of iceberg lettuce coupled with the Fancy Feastesque texture of the dressing gave me deviled-ham vomiting flashbacks. Good thing we had extra hot dogs, because it takes a lot of white-trash rumaki to repress that memory.

Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom. After years of making and eating fancy food, Robin is sick of it all. She's returning to the basics: recipes that haven't surfaced in three decades. She reports on the results for Gut Check every Monday.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.