One of America’s Favorites – Half-Smoke

February 8, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A half-smoke is a “local sausage delicacy” found in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding region. Similar to a hot dog, but usually larger, spicier, and with more coarsely-ground meat, the sausage is often half-pork and half-beef, smoked, and served with herbs, onion, and chili sauce.

Halfsmokes from Weenie Beenie

The etymology of “half-smoke” possibly comes from the original half-pork, half-beef composition, the ingredients and smoked method of preparation. Another possible explanation is that the texture and flavor is halfway between smoked sausage and a regular hot dog. Yet another explanation is that it refers to cooks cutting the sausage in half when grilling. Composition of the sausages varies by brand and some brands even make more than one kind. A half-smoke can be half pork, half beef, all beef, or anything in between. It can be steamed instead of smoked. The company thought to be the originator of the sausage, Briggs & Company, was sold by its owner, Raymond Briggs, in 1950 without clarifying the origin of the name. The products sold under the name generally have a genuine or artificial smoke flavoring and coarser texture than a regular hot dog; these are the key features that distinguish them.

The “original” half-smoke is considered to be the sausage distributed by D.C.’s Briggs and Co. meatpackers, originating in around 1950, though Raymond Briggs started selling his half-smokes in about 1930. Eventually, Briggs was sold to another meat distributor, where, by some accounts, the quality of the meat declined.

Numerous hot dog carts in Washington, D.C., sell steamed half-smokes, with those on Constitution Avenue catering to tourists and those on Pennsylvania Avenue and many other hot dog carts throughout the downtown area serving federal employees. Half-smokes are the “official dog” of the Washington Nationals. The most prominent location is often cited as Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington’s U Street neighborhood, which has long been a center of Black Washington, and was an essential stop for President-elect Barack Obama in 2009.

Another popular location for half-smokes is the Weenie Beenie in South Arlington, Virginia, located near the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park trail. Founded in 1950, it pre-dates Ben’s Chili Bowl. Among newer purveyors is Meats & Foods, on Florida Avenue just east of Ben’s Chili Bowl, which makes its own handmade version of the sausage.

One of America’s Favorites – Chili Dog

November 30, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A chili-cheese dog with fries

Chili dog is the generic name for a hot dog served in a bun and topped with some sort of meat sauce, such as chili con carne. Often other toppings are also added, such as cheese, onions, and mustard. The style has multiple regional variations in the United States, many calling for specific and unique sauce ingredients, types of hot dogs, or types of buns and referred to regionally under region-specific names.

Texas weiner
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the “Texas hot dog”, “Texas chili dog.” “Texas hot’,” or “Texas wiener” is a hot dog with chili or hot sauce; it is served in variations with assorted condiments. The Texas wiener was created in Paterson, New Jersey, before 1920 and in Altoona, Pennsylvania, by Peter “George” Koufougeorgas in 1918 and originally called Texas Hot Wieners. The “Texas” reference is to the chili sauce used on the dogs, which actually has a stronger Greek cuisine influence due to the ethnicity of the cooks who invented it. It is considered a unique regional hot dog style. From its origins, the invention spread to the Pennsylvania cities of Scranton and Philadelphia. By the 1920s, it had reached Western New York, where numerous long standing hot dog stands still remain, including a stand run by the Rigas Family (dating to 1921) and Ted’s Hot Dogs (which opened in 1927).

Coney Island hot dog
In southeastern Michigan, a Coney Island hot dog is a European-style Frankfurter Würstel (Vienna sausage) of German origin with a natural lamb or sheep casing, topped with a beef heart-based sauce, which was developed by Macedonian and Greek immigrants in the area. It has several local variations, including Detroit style, Flint style, and Jackson style.

A Flint-style Coney Island hot dog

Hot wiener
In Rhode Island the hot wiener or New York System wiener is a staple of the food culture and is served at “New York System” restaurants. The traditional wiener is made with a small, thin hot dog made of veal and pork, giving it a different taste from a traditional beef hot dog, served in a steamed bun, and topped with celery salt, yellow mustard, chopped onions, and a seasoned meat sauce.

Michigan hot dog
In the North Country of New York State, a Michigan hot dog, or “Michigan”, is a steamed hot dog on a steamed bun topped with a meaty sauce, generally referred to as “Michigan sauce.”

Cheese coneys

Cheese coneys
In Greater Cincinnati, Cheese coneys or Coney Islands (without the cheese) are hot dogs in buns topped with Cincinnati chili (a Greek-inspired meat sauce), onions, mustard, and cheese.

Carolina style
In North Carolina, hot dogs topped with chili, onions, and either mustard or slaw are referred to as “Carolina style”, which is also used to refer to hamburgers with similar toppings.

Half-smoke

In Washington, D.C., the half-smoke is similar to a hot dog, but usually larger, spicier, and with more coarsely-ground meat, the sausage is often half-pork and half-beef, smoked, and served with herbs, onion, and chili sauce.

A half smoke

 

 

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