Buffalo’s Definitive Foods: The Buffalo hot dog

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

As we continue to look at Buffalo’s definitive foods, we look at the hot dog.

Sahlen’s hot dogs on a home grill, with 4 different levels of char.

Just like pizza, they have hot dogs everywhere, but we all know there’s something special and different about a Buffalo hot dog.

And recently, a national food blogger wrote “forget wings, Buffalo is a hot dog town.”

So what does all that mean?

Longtime Buffalo butcher Mark Redlinksi tells me the biggest difference between a Buffalo hot dog and one of the national brands is the casing. He says it’s difficult to find a natural casing if you’re not buying a Buffalo dog.

It’s also what’s inside– or not inside– a Buffalo dog. All meat, no fillers in a Sahlen’s or any other local brand. It’s also a unique beef to pork ratio we’ve become used to here.

And of course, like everything else in Buffalo– our hot dogs are much bigger than what the national brands sell.

A Ted’s dog, loaded.

As far as how we eat ’em, there are two equally definitive Buffalo styles.

The charcoal broiled dog highlights that natural casing and gives a great bite… and maybe a great crunch if you like yours well done. Ted’s charbroiled dog, on a toasted roll, with special spicy sauce, mustard, relish, onions, and a pickle spear is a WNY Classic.

Ted’s has been serving Buffalo’s favorite hot dogs since 1947.
A Louie’s Texas hot, “up,” wrapped in the to-go wax paper.

Another WNY classic is the Texas Hot, also known as the “slime dog,” the “scum dog,” and if you’re from South Buffalo, the “shit canoe.” (I think I grew up thinking that last one is what they were officially called. )

The hot dogs are usually a slightly different formulation… usually without the natural casing, which would get rubbery when fried on the griddle.

On that griddled dog, add mustard, slivered onions, and that spicy meat sauce.

“Slime on the line” at Seneca Texas Hots on Seneca Street.

Whether you like ’em off the grill or drowning in that Texas Hot gravy, the Buffalo hot dog is like no other.

MORE: Buffalo’s love affair with the hot dog

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.