The Hungover Gourmet


Lunchin' with the King of Hot Dogs

Yocco's, The King of Hot DogsRight off the bat I must apologize for bailing out on last week's recipe. Call it malaise, call it overworked, call it whatever you will, but the motivation just wasn't there. It wasn't that I didn't care, I even sat down and started jotting down notes for my column on hot dogs. Oddly enough, I didn't know how prescient that topic selection would be.

As some of you may be aware, the staff recently pulled up roots from Pittsburgh, PA and relocated to Doylestown, PA, a bucolic setting about an hour outside Hostile City, USA...Philadelphia. Since we possess a modicum of writing and design skills, a few courageous folks have tossed us some freelance work, keeping us in rent money and cheap Chilean wine. However, that doesn't prevent us from spending a few hours each weekend trawling the 'Help Wanted' ads for the perfect opportunity.

I've found -- through years of answering ads -- that you reach a certain point of desperation in the ads you choose. Initially, only those jobs that perfectly match your situation, experience, and salary range make the cut. As the phone calls trickle in and the next Student Loan bill looms on the horizon, a larger net is cast over the ads. "'s an ad for someone to typeset school lunch menus for $8 an hour! I wonder if I can fax my resume in?"

The final stage, before looping right back to stage one and starting the whole thing all freaking over again, is the complete and "utter disgust with the whole process phase". This comes from a combination of factors -- never getting called for the job you KNOW you're perfect for, as well as going on an endless stream of what seems like pointless interviews. Like the one I had the other day (don't worry...this all ties together later).

The ad seemed innocent enough...GRAPHIC ARTISTS. Mac-literate w/knowledge of print industry for marketing position. Forward resumes to Allen Organ Co., blah, blah, blah.

Allen Organ Co., it turned out, is one of the largest distributors of digital organs in the world. Even when the personnel director told me that 90% of their business was churches I wasn't turned off. Hey, it wasn't too far, and I was in the desperation phase we talked about above.

And so, on a bright, clear Monday morning I put on my Church-goin' clothes and headed off on the "45 minute" drive to meet with the Allen Organ Co.

45 minutes into the trip and none of the landmarks given to me by the company's personnel director were coming into view. In fact, I was getting further and further into Pennsylvania Dutch Country -- land of potatoes, cabbage, and coke-dealing Amish youth.

We're now an hour into the trip and the last few steps of the directions are starting to make sense. However, I'm now out past Dorney Park and Wild Water Kingdom -- a low-rent Six Flags for the coke-dealing Amish set -- and I've come to a pretty solid decision: I wouldn't make this drive every day if it was the greatest job in the free world.

Normally I would've just located a phone, stopped, and phoned in my regards to the personnel dude at Allen. But something kept drawing me further and further along the journey. Maybe it was the desire to see just what an organ company looks like. Maybe it was the perverse desire to ask,"Would you like to see my upright organ?" Or, maybe, just maybe, it was the billboards that kept promising something called 'Yocco's -- The Hot Dog King.' (See, I told you this would all come together.)

Now, you have to understand something about The Hungover Gourmet. Nothing intrigues me like: a) local food stuff; and, b) places that proclaim themselves "king" of anything. I've been to several joints that promote themselves as: "king of cheesesteaks" (a decidedly Philly concoction); a few dozen "king of subs"; and even a handful of "king of stopless go-go". So a stop at 'Yocco's -- The Hot Dog King' was inevitable. Plus, I had to get a copy of that cool logo -- a hot dog king holding a pitchfork with another hot dog on it! How evil is THAT?! (See illo at left)

I reached Allen Organ Co. after a one hour and twenty minute trip in very light, late-morning traffic. Leaving my portfolio in the car I strode across the parking lot -- as I said before -- dressed in my Sunday best. Sure I had on dark sunglasses and the hair was freshly spiked at all manner of odd angles, but I didn't think anything of my appearance. I'm a graphic artist for god's sake!

Until I reached the front door and was met by a pissed-off looking Herb Tarleck of an individual who stared me down and asked in a way only a pissed-off salesman who never left the backwoods of PA Dutch Country can: "May I help you with something?" I figured he left out the "you Devil worshiper" part because he was with a client -- a Jethro-looking, God-fearing, Bible-thumping yokel there to buy an organ and sample the swinging nightlife of Macungie, PA.

As sweet as pie, with a face like an altar boy after a few sips of sacramental wine, I replied: "No thanks, I have a one o'clock meeting with Barry."

Visibly shaken by the idea that I might one day work there -- I didn't have the heart to tell him I was canceling my appointment -- he turned away and said, "One of the girls in there can help you." Ah yes, "girls," even further evidence that I wasn't in the most forward-thinking of environments.

The Yocco LogoThe meeting cancellation was anti-climactic, and Barry the Personnel Guy seemed faintly normal (no sock tie or plaid shirt), though a bit of a Ned Flanders. Though the showroom and museum (an organ museum!) seemed promising, my stomach was growling and Yocco's -- The Hot Dog King was in sight!

I turned the Hungover Mobile around and scooted back up Route 100 to Fogelsville, PA, just before it intersects with Route 78 and pulled into the Yocco's -- The Hot Dog King parking lot. I could've gone through the Drive-Thru, but I knew that ordering and eating inside would be a culinary experience not to be missed.

Yocco's is a pretty standard 'good eats' kinda joint. A small dining area is separated from the ordering and cooking area by some wooden slats, and one wall is dominated by a large map of the US showing where Yocco Dogs have been shipped. A couple pissed-off looking high school/college kids man the registers, and the order-takers immediately pegged me as a non-local and waited on two or three obvious regulars (they knew the lingo) before taking my order of three cheese dogs, fries, and a Coke.

As hot dogs go, the Yocco Dog just might have been the best I've ever tasted. The fries were nothing to write home about, but the dogs had a distinct flavoring that we recently tried to replicate in our test kitchen. The logo and placemat'll tell you that the secret is in the sauce, which seemed to be a mix of onions (fried until they're wilted but not burnt), mustard, hot sauce, and maybe a hint of relish. The dogs, allegedly made exclusively for Yocco's by Medford, were coated with spices (paprika? cayenne pepper?) and grilled before being placed in the bun with two slices of white American cheese and the aforementioned sauce. Downright delightful and very low on the belch scale, almost never repeating on me in later hours.

You can visit any of four Yocco's -- The Hot Dog King for "hot dogs with personality" -- and it's a horrible one! (Thanks to Sister Leighanna for that observation.)

Original: 625 Liberty Street
West: 2128 Hamilton Street
South: Route 29 & Buckeye Road in Emmaus
Northwest: Route 100 in Fogelsville

Emil's -- The Hot Dog Court Jester

4 Beef Hot Dogs (don't be bringing any of that Turkey or Chicken Dog crap into my kitchen!)
4 Hot Dog Buns
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped
Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard
Cayenne Pepper
Olive Oil
8 Slices of White American Cheese

Yocco's, The Secret's in the SauceIn a small saute pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the onions, cooking over medium heat. Cook the onions until they are wilted, but don't let them brown. Add a few dashes of Tabasco and heat for another minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Drain the onions, leaving the reserved oil in the pan. Place the onions in a small bowl and add as much mustard as you desire. Coat the hot dogs with a little paprika and cayenne pepper so they get a spicy crust when grilled. Reheat the oil in the pan and add the hot dogs, cooking over medium heat until done. On a separate griddle or stovetop grill, take the buns and toast them on both sides until lightly toasted. (You can brush a little olive oil on the inside of the bun if you wish.) After toasting the buns, add two slices of American cheese to each and coat cheese with mustard and onion sauce. Add the dogs and serve any leftover sauce on the side.

Makes 4 servings.

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