Hot dogs are near and dear to many Americans' hearts – particularly this time of year, when warm nights beg for a couple of franks of the grill. But how you define a hot dog may differ vastly depending on whether you're in, say, New Jersey, West Virginia, or Chicago: The brand of dog, the type of bun, and everything that goes on top is likely to vary. Is the hot dog steamed or grilled? Are the buns toasted?
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We are all products of our hometowns, adopted and otherwise, and America happens to be home to an incredible range of hot dog varietals. These dogs are a far cry from the cheap boiled specimens some of us grew up with, incorporating everything from celery salt and secret sauces to tropical fruit relishes and cream cheese. Location matters, too: Boardwalk dogs and ballpark dogs are somehow elevated above the rest, in a class of their own. From Rhode Island to Arizona, Colorado to Hawaii, our list travels across the country to uncover our favorite styles of hot dog, and the best places to find them.
Red Snapper (Lewiston, Maine)
Particularly common in Maine, these small natural-casing beef and pork hot dogs are snappy, all right, as well as red – dyed neon-red, for reasons that probably have to do with marketing. Typically they're served with bright yellow mustard, lobster roll style: in a New England split-top bun, steamed or lightly toasted (and sometimes buttered).
Where to Get It: For more than a century, Simone's Hot Dog Stand has done red snappers right: a Jordan's dog steamed and picturesquely drizzled with mustard (and optional celery salt), atop a bed of relish and onions in a steamed roll. 99 Chestnut St., Lewiston, ME
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