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Recently in Hot Dogs Category

Speaking of weird food and flavor pairings, the prominent topic in today's Food pages . . .

Feast points us to a doozy -- a Vosges bacon-chocolate bar-topped hot dog at Hot Doug's, 3324 N. California.

The base of the $7.50 creation is a pork sausage with hints of dried cherry and apple. Pear mustard and chunks of the aforementioned Vosges Mo's Bacon Bar round out the dog.

As with many offerings at Hot Doug's, this chocolate-topped dog is fleeting, available only through Saturday, according to Feast. After which, the shop will close up shop for a brief break, until March 2.

"It has often been said that wives, girlfriends and significant others complain that affection and attention shouldn't be limited to one day: Valentine's Day," the Hot Doug's website reads. "Hot Doug's wholeheartedly agrees: It should be two and a half weeks."

There are certain inalienable truths about this year's Lollapalooza:

*By day's end those Chicago Transit Authority air conditioned "cooling buses" are going to be chillier than any of those "tall boys" o' beer you're lining up for.

*The laws of supply and demand dictates that there are flasks on the market that look just like Blackberries. (Though someone should have advised the young hipster pingponging off other concertgoers on the way to Green Day not to alternately drink and scream out how she loaded the booze in to her nifty find. Unless the point is to draw the attention of security. As far as I could tell, she lucked out this time.)

*Graham Elliot, local chef to a U.S. president, has assembled a lovely lineup of local eateries serving up some fine trendy food (pork belly, anyone?) but an unscientific polls show concertgoers love their hot dogs and pizza...

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Sun-Times political columnist Lynn Sweet offers food-tinged coverage yet again, with her story today on Chicago hot dog stand owner Mike Payne's role in getting Chicago-style hot dogs served at the White House congressional picnic Tuesday.

Sweet says Payne, owner of Byron's Hot Dogs, was enlisted by Sen. Dick Durbin, who had gotten a call from the White House asking for help.

White House chef Cristeta Comerford worked off a grocery list Payne sent her of all the required ingredients.

The story, thank goodness, isn't nearly as controversial as Sweet's last foodie go-round. But it still raises a few questions:

Items on Payne's grocery list included "yellow mustard, shredded lettuce, diced onions, sliced cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, peppers, celery salt and dill pickles." If we may: Sliced cucumbers are a stretch, but since when has shredded lettuce belonged on a Chicago-style dog?

Also, Comferford couldn't get her hands on the bright green relish, but "she found something close." And what would that be? Inquiring minds want to know!

Stories of career-changers looking to make a buck in the food industry are a dime a dozen at the National Restaurant Association show, which opened Saturday at McCormick Place. Here's just one:

Canadian Bruce Gibson was, at one time, a banker. Five years ago, he got fired. He started a concessions business in Ontario, Gibbys Grill (two locations strong now), got his three boys -- all nicknamed Gibby -- his wife and other relatives involved.

They started getting a reputation for their fresh-cut fries. Rather than rest on those starchy laurels, Gibson set about developing a signature item that would pair well with the fries. Thus was born the $5 Gibby Dog, a seven-inch, pork and beef wiener stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon and deep-fried.

Last week, he opened a factory that will mass-produce frozen Gibby Dogs for distribution to restaurants, stadiums and the like.

"Honestly, if I'm not the talk of the show...," Gibson said as a steady stream of people whisked toothpick-impaled slices of Gibby Dogs from a tray at his booth Saturday.

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Gibson isn't divulging the intricacies of how the bacon adheres to the dog, or how the cheese doesn't ooze all over the place while it undergoes the hot oil bath. The risk he took introducing the product in such a hot dog-educated town as Chicago wasn't lost on him.

"Chicagoans love their hot dog but they've been very gracious and receptive to the Gibby Dog," he said. (Bruce, it's called free food -- only .005 percent of trade show attendees pass it up).

The Gibby Dog can be deep-fried, oven-baked or microwaved.

Foodie the iPhone app debuted four months ago (the brainchild of Chicago food writer Ari Bendersky and his business partner and digital strategist, Matt Marcus), and it was a good idea from the start -- a way for diners to book tables at some of the city's most popular restaurants AND get daily specials and little dining perks (a free dessert here, a discounted prix fixe there) exclusive to Foodie users.

Good turned to great this week, as Foodie has launched a Web site, making those 'exclusive' deals available free to the masses now, not just iPhone users (the app costs $1.99). More than 60 restaurants (Graham Elliot, Spiaggia, Lula Café, and so on) offer deals through Foodie.

Speaking of iPhone apps, Vienna Beef has gone viral, too, with a Vienna beef hot dog locator app. Users can zero in on the closest purveyors in their zip code. It gets better: They also can play hot dog cop, flagging hot dog stands that are "No Ketchup" violators, a release states.

The Vienna iphone app is free and available at itunes.com/appstore or here.

A few hot dog-related thoughts:

* Oscar Mayer, THE Oscar Mayer (well, actually the third in the family), has died at the ripe age of 95.

* The August issue of Bon Appetit magazine lists the nation's 10 best new hot dog joints. Among them (surprise, surprise): Hot Doug's at 3324 N. California. New?? The BA editors must be living in a time warp. Oh well. Guess whose line just got even longer?
Also getting props is Hank's Haute Dogs in Honolulu from Henry Adaniya of Trio fame, of whom we're only slightly jealous. In the last conversation we had with the man back in 2006 as he prepared to close the doors on Trio, he said he'd always just wanted to open up a hot dog stand, a really good hot dog stand on the beach in Hawaii, where he grew up. And he did.

* There are 23 more days left of National Hot Dog Month. Eat up.

In these tough economic times, everything that can be done to relieve some of the pressure on Americans struggling to get by is welcomed, whether it be incentives to buy new cars or homes, or a package of hot dogs for no charge.

Oscar Mayer is the one offering up the free franks. They're giving away up to $1 million in Jumbo Beef Franks, for those who sign up at the Web site they've set up for the promotion, http://kraft.promotions.com/ombeeffranks/front.do.

Once you sign up for the offer, you'll get a coupon (within four to six weks) for your free package of Jumbo Beef Franks. Hurry up, though, because the promotion ends at 10:59 Central Time Wednesday.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Hot Dogs category.

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