Sunday, June 1, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #161, Hiram's Hot Dog Stand, Fort Lee, New Jersey, September 2013

You just can't beat a great hot dog, folks, and you know me, always looking for the neat local hot dog joints. Hiram's is one of those places. Hiram's Hot Dog Stand, located on Palisade Avenue in Fort Lee, NJ (think Palisades Amusement Park - now a legend - and the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge) has been around since 1928, coincidentally, the same year my favorite hometown hot dog stand, the famous Rutt's Hut, started up in Clifton.

Not uncommon during the 1800's and through the mid 1900's, many small businesses like car service stations, hot dog stands and frozen custard stands were built as extensions of the owner's home on a busy community street. Hiram's is one of those businesses. If you look carefully at the photo, you'll see the house right behind the hotdog stand. Most of these old businesses have long ago gone the way of the dinosaurs and dodos. But, Hiram's (and Rutt's Hut) thankfully have survived the ravages of time and a changing culture. They are institutions passed on by generations of customers to succeeding generations. They are a connection with an earlier time that, while not as technically advanced and ambiance oriented, provided good, inexpensive food with simple surroundings (think about the era of the drive-in restaurants of the later 40's, 50's and early 60's).

And here is what keeps people coming back to Hiram's and the few places like it that still survive.

Two hot dogs, one a chilidog and one a kraut/mustard dog, two of my favorite ways of eating a hot dog. Along side it is a paper plate (typical of the way this food is served) of French fries with catsup. Hiram's also serves a variety of drinks including cold draft beer and soft drinks. Probably the most popular soft drink at Hiram's is Yoohoo, an un-carbonated chocolate flavored drink, again, created in New Jersey and dating back to the 1920's. I have to admit, I like Yoohoo almost as much as I like the Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer formerly served at my former favorite hometown pizza restaurant, Mario's, and still served at Rutt's Hut.

There is a small "hole in the wall" hot dog stand in Keyser, West Virginia, Marty's Hot Dogs, that I've yet to try, but I plan to. Keyser is my eastern base camp. And, if my route north to New Jersey to meet up with my son (flying in from LA on some business) takes me through Maryland, especially the Annapolis area, I plan to drive up Rt. 2 to Glen Bernie and stop in at Ann's Dari Creme for one of the righteous "Double Dogs with Everything" and a hand made chocolate shake the joint is famous for. More reports in the future on the great hot dog caper.  

1 comment:

  1. I don't know about anyone else, but I enjoy hearing about unique food stops around the country. My wife and I love to eat, and we aren't "picky" eaters, but do expect a certain quality. We always like to try to local fare at anyplace different we find in our travels. We've tried everything from the Hamburger Hamlet across the street from Mann's Theater in Hollywood, to the largest hamburgers in the state near Sanibel Island (sorry, can't remember the exact name of the place), to the Pirate's House in Savannah, to the original recipe Pasty's in northern Michigan. I can't say we're "into" hot dogs, but even they can be good if done right. Keep up the good work!