Thinking and writing about food. Not always in that order.

Dear everyone else in America, Cambridge wants you to know your hotdog buns are an abomination.

In Burgers, Uncategorized on August 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm

In a recent conversation, I was reminded of the many ways in which my hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts can be seen as inferior to every other place in America:

1.) All of our “doctors” went to school at “Harvard” which means they are “not real.” Plus it’s a bit “funny” that there are so many hospitals.

2.) No one here “cares” about anything — as evidenced by the fact that they are always repairing the streets.

3.) It’s difficult to breathe  because there are “so many trees.”

While it’s hard to argue with logic like this (but if you have any suggestions, PLEASE contact me. It is VERY IMPORTANT to my family that I figure out how to argue with logic like this), I know there is one area in which Cantabridgians can be certain in our smug superiority: New England-style hot dog buns.

Sure, some of you are breathing deeply and living great lives in far-flung treeless utopias where the doctors have never even heard of the Ivy League. But I can guarantee that you’re being forced to eat that roadkill of the bakery aisle —  the “classic” side-loading hot dog bun.

You know what I’m talking about. Take a hamburger bun, drive back and forth over it until it is oblong and has given up the ghost. Now, try to side-load a hot dog in it. Watch the hot dog roll out, because the bun has broken in half — this design is not remotely appropriate for holding a hot dog. Wipe the dirt off the hotdog. Repeat. Now, try to toast this abomination before adding the hot dog. Actually, don’t bother. Just drop the hot dog directly in the dirt and go get the toaster.

While the rest of the world accepts this non-sense as “classic”, here in New England we enjoy our tube steaks coddled in the sensory perfection that is the New England hot dog bun. For those unfortunate enough never to have encountered a New England hot dog bun, let me describe: picture a loaf of the puffiest, whitest, white bread ever made by angels. A mere two inches high. Now imagine that loaf artfully sliced along the top by Edward Scissorhands – not all the way through, mind you – but lightly so that it forms 6 bifurcated buns, magically joined together, yet clearly separate. Once these buns are pulled apart (a fantastic sensory experience in itself), they form the perfect hot dog home – spongy and delicious on two sides with a cushiony hot dog pillow in the middle. But it’s in the toasting where the true superiority of the New England design comes through. By toasting the OUTSIDE of these buns, you create a third texture (pillowy inside, gentle crust on top and bottom, and super crunchy outside). It then perfectly wraps the hot dog. Genius.

As for the hot dog, that’s entirely your choice: Fenway Frank, Maine Red DogNew York System Wiener (actually, they use the wrong buns, so forget that). You even can go with the non-native Hebrew National Kosher (that’s what I do: no snouts) or make a lobster roll. You can boil a sweat sock and put it inside that bun.

So, the rest of you continue deluding yourselves that your regional blahblahblahwhatever dog is somehow “special.” But sitting smugly here in the People’s Republic, we know that without a proper New England bun, you are choking on a big bite of compromise with every sad side-loader you ingest.

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  1. Little confused about this post. Are you saying that Cantabrigians are to be thanked for this New England delicacy? I’m from Western Mass and grew up with these buns as well, and am having a little trouble verifying your claim that Cambridge can take credit for this design. Also, wouldn’t it be more apropos to feature a bun brand more associated with New England, like JJ Nissen, rather than Wonder Bread? As a native of Cambridge, I’m surprised you’ve forgotten about Ted Williams shilling the product. The company is now owned by Hostess, but I do know that the bread was made for a long time out of Portland, ME, another city in our fair New England.

    • As a rule, it’s safe to assume that Cantabridgians take credit for all good things everywhere in the world and believe that we are owed a thank you — for obvious reasons. But this one time, I think we are willing to share credit for this genius invention that is indeed enjoyed all over New England. (And please don’t spend too much time trying to verify the claims in here, I don’t.) Thanks for the comment and enjoy the dogs.

  2. I laughed my butt off reading this. You are hilarious!

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