Where to Get a Frankfurter in New York?

“New York City has some of the best food trucks in the world – especially if you’re into Halal. But the Hot Dog trucks, especially those which descend upon tourist traps – are almost sure to give you a plethora of diseases or ill effects. Sitting in questionable water for hours on end, these hot dogs are mass produced, over priced and nowhere near the quality you’ll find if you do a bit of research. If you must, have a hot dog at a ballpark during a New York summer.”

Where to Get a Frankfurter in New York?

Gilbert Ott of God Save The Points — who I believe is based in New York — wrote the paragraph you just read in this article pertaining to the ten worst tourist traps in New York City; and he was on a roll with some of the interesting advice he offered…

…but to be quite frank, the advice pertaining to having “a hot dog at a ballpark during a New York summer” did not quite cut the mustard with me, as I could think of better places where one can relish one of the quintessential culinary offerings which help to define what many people consider to be the greatest city in the world.

Kosher or Kosher-Style Delicatessens

Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Go to almost any Kosher or Kosher-style delicatessen — such as Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen and Katz’s Deli respectively — to enjoy the spicy long sausage, fresh and hot, nestled in a warm bun and slathered with mustard, a light snap with the savory juiciness of cured grilled beef which welcomes each anticipated bite. This grilled delight is almost guaranteed to be better than virtually any hot dog you will find on the street…

…but the fatal flaw with this suggestion is that a pastrami sandwich on rye bread always beckons and takes priority over a frankfurter in satisfying my appetite; and as a result, I unfortunately rarely order a hot dog in a delicatessen.

Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island

Nathan’s Famous Coney Island Frankfurters

Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

The very mention of the name Coney Island — which is a neighborhood located at the southernmost point of the borough of Brooklyn — evokes the quintessential components of a seaside resort from its heyday: amusement parks with rides and arcades; a crowded sandy beach; a famous wooden boardwalk; and open-air stands with people selling all sorts of assorted junk food…

…and although cotton candy and jelly apples rank near the top, nothing is more representative of Coney Island than that American favorite: the frankfurter, whose unmistakable aroma somehow mixes nicely in the air permeated with the scents of sea water and sweets.

Nathan’s Famous celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016; and this legendary establishment has never failed in providing the ultimate gastronomic experience which helped to define Coney Island. Enjoying a frankfurter here is arguably worth the subway ride from Manhattan — even during the winter months…

…and you can satisfy your craving for a juicy frankfurter at other locations of Nathan’s Famous — but for some reason, the experience is not the same. Order the fried potatoes to accompany your frankfurter.

What Does Papaya Have to Do With Frankfurters?

I have never dined at places such as Papaya King — which was famously lauded by the fictitious character of Cosmo Kramer on the Seinfeld television show who preferred a hot dog from there over one offered at a movie theater — and Gray’s Papaya; but note that the latter uses products by Sabrett, which is the same manufacturer of many of the hot dogs offered by the aforementioned street vendors. That does not mean that their product is inferior, as it is prepared differently that that of many street vendors.

I have heard or read about many positive reviews of both establishments — and at as inexpensive as $1.25 per hot dog, you may actually enjoy a real bargain.

Hebrew National — If Elsewhere Other Than in New York

When I am at home or visiting a place other than one in New York, I prefer Hebrew National frankfurters versus competing products at the grocery store — and not because they are Kosher. They just taste better and seem to be of a significantly better quality than the competition. This is not an endorsement of any kind; I am just stating my preference — and yes, I do prefer the New York style of hot dog versus the Chicago style.

What does irritate me, however, is the elusive reason as to why there are seven frankfurters to a package while a package of hot dog buns contains eight. What am I supposed to do with the leftover bun? Should I purchase eight packages of Hebrew National frankfurters and seven packages of hot dog buns to even everything out at a total of 56 hot dogs? I do enjoy eating frankfurters, but consuming 56 hot dogs is best left to a competitor at a hot dog eating contest.

Although my preferences are based on sensory and quality factors, I do understand and respect those who treat their dietary restrictions seriously, whether due to reasons of religion, health or other determinants.

Lawsuit Against Hebrew National — and Are Its Products Kosher?

Please skip to the Summary section of this article if this part does not interest you.

Hebrew National — which is a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods, Inc. that manufactures Kosher meats — was sued by eleven consumers in the state of Minnesota five years ago over whether or not its Kosher certification is authentic due to the meat processing services provided to ConAgra allegedly not up to the standards for Kosher certification. Their beef is that the products were falsely advertised as Kosher, with ConAgra allegedly tricking people into paying a premium price when compared to the non-Kosher products of competitors — rendering the reputation of Hebrew National in a real pickle…

…but according to this article from Reuters, Donovan W. Frank — who was the judge who presided over the case in the United States District Court in Saint Paul — dismissed the case on Thursday, January 31, 2013, as he ruled on Thursday that he does not have jurisdiction over a dispute that he described as “intrinsically religious in nature”.

Yes, you read that correctly: Judge Frank. I kid you not.

However — in April of 2014, according to this article written by Jonathan Stempel of Reuters — the 8th United States Circuit Court of Appeals “in St. Paul, Minnesota on Friday said a trial judge erred in dismissing the lawsuit brought by 11 consumers in its entirety on the ground that the First Amendment barred him from addressing the underlying religious questions” and “returned it to the Dakota County, Minnesota state court where it began.”

The lawsuit was again dismissed on Monday, October 6, 2014 by Jerome B. Abrams — who is a judge who presided over the case in the Dakota County District Court, according to this article written by Mordecai Specktor of The American Jewish World — citing that “It would be unholy, indeed, for this or any other court to substitute its judgment on this purely religious question.”

I will not delve into the ramifications of a secular court ruling on the dietary laws of a religion. That is best left for those who wish to debate this issue at a different forum or weblog more suitable for this particular discussion.

However, there are some people who are very serious about being strict with their diet. For example, Hebrew National products are not good enough for FlyerTalk member craz, who posts that he “wouldn’t eat Hebrew National, it has a triangle K on it, for those who only want Kosher and Glatt isn’t important they will eat it. Is it treif 100% I wouldn’t say so even though I wouldn’t eat it and it doesn’t reach my standards.” In fact, he reportedly ate nothing during a FlyerTalk member gathering at Ben’s Kosher Deli in New York he attended simply because the food was not considered Kosher to him — and that Kosher delicatessen proudly serves products by Hebrew National.

On the other hand, there are FlyerTalk members who chided Costco for selling their own brand of “bland” and “awful” hot dogs over the ones they used to sell, which were Hebrew National products — and some FlyerTalk members will even go out of their way and pay more for Hebrew National hot dogs. Other FlyerTalk members believe that Hebrew National frankfurters have become saltier in recent years.

Summary

The best hot dog which I had enjoyed at a baseball stadium was at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago — and that was because it was Kosher. Otherwise, I generally do not indulge in hot dogs whenever I am watching sports live from the stands in a stadium.

Other places do exist in New York where you can experience a significantly better product than that offered by street vendors with their carts — I do not know about them because I am not exactly an aficionado of hot dogs — but the aforementioned establishments should suffice.

By the way — I do not apologize for my rye sense of humor.

All photographs ©2007 and ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Where to Get a Frankfurter in New York?”

  1. colleen says:

    Yep. I see what you did there.

    Took me a while to ketchup.

  2. Henry says:

    Absolutely love Ben’s and I agree that a pastrami sandwich on rye is a priority over any hot dog. Yet I am more of a chicken salad cold plate man. It’s the best and most reasonable lunch in the city. It’s impossible to finish it.

  3. Jorge says:

    Have you tried Crif Dogs in the East Village? It’s very good !

  4. Ric says:

    Gray’s papaya – The Original at 72nd and Broadway
    They rock…even Obama eats there.
    Always open – for a quick “Recession Special” – 2 dogs and a natural drink of choice with $1 refills.

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