In southwest Pennsylvania, eating pork and sauerkraut on January first is traditional for good luck in the New Year. Often that pork is hot dogs. I can remember eating lunch at my grandmother Rebecca Miner’s place. Many times it would be hot dogs wrapped in a slice of bread. The only brand she ever bought was the Oscar Mayer brand. She was very loyal to that brand. Most of the meats for her house came from the animals that were raised on the farm. Hogs became sausage, hams, chops, and lard. Bulls became hamburger, roasts, and a few steaks. Chickens were cleaned, dismembered, and frozen, but not hot dogs. Hot dogs were always bought at Resh’s Red & White store in Indian Head Pennsylvania.
When we would visit my aunt Violet Bottomly in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, she would sometimes invite us to eat with her family. I am not sure what brand of hot dogs she used, but nine times out of ten, they were served with mashed potatoes. I can remember the hot dogs cut into slices and placed on the steaming white mound of potatoes. The tasty, flesh-colored wheels were on each bite of the mashed potatoes, each adding their flavor to the other, enhancing the eating experience.
I used to buy brand specific, Blue Star. Then one day, the flavor and texture seemed to change. Since then I have tried buying different brands, forging my way through the flavor jungle. Perhaps my taste buds have dulled or changed, but I am finding no outstanding winners.
I only occasionally eat them because of the nitrates and the fat content, but when I buy a package, they are usually the brand that the store has on sale. I stretch eating them over a longer period, freezing the remainder until I decide to indulge again. If boiled, I like to eat them with mustard and onions. If fried or roasted over an open fire, I lay a trail of catsup along their blistered, blackened skins sometimes adding a slice of American cheese to the sandwich. Yesterday, I roasted two of them over the red, glowing coals in my basement wood burner.