Springfield Chili Dog’s
I’m a librarian and count myself lucky–my job doesn’t hold much stress, I get to work with interesting people (librarians & patrons), it pays pretty well, and I feel like I helped at least one person every day. In addition to these perks I get to travel to exotic locales for library conferences. Okay, maybe I’m stretching the truth–most conferences take place in dull towns during the off season (think Duluth in winter). This time, my trip took me to Springfield, MA for the Massachusetts Library Association.
Since I have a sixth-sense about hot dogs, I caught sight of this hot dog stand on my way from the bus station to the hotel. I thought the prominent Sabrett signs were a little out of place, since they’re the hot dogs sold by NYC street cart vendors, but I figured the signs must have been bought used and meant to spruce up the stand. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Gene, the owner and operator of the wagon (and also professional truck driver and pastor) proudly told me he drives down to NYC once a week to pick up his Sabrett hot dogs. He built–by hand–5 of these hot dog wagons for his children, all of whom weren’t interested in taking on a fledgling weenie wagon business, so he took one and set out to start a hot dog empire. I asked if he’d be interested in selling any of the 4 other wagons he wasn’t using and he was pretty adamantly against it–told me that he built them with his hands and by the sweat of his brow, so he couldn’t see any reason to give them up.
With dogs like these, Gene’s family needs to pick up the other 4 weenie wagons and take central Massachusetts by storm. Above at the two types of dogs Gene regularly serves, a chili cheese dog and a dog with everything (I believe it was sauerkraut, ketchup, cheese, and chili–maybe mustard but only very little if that). It looked like Gene made his chili with beef, onions, garlic, peppers, and spices–no tomato sauce–so the addition of ketchup added some sweetness to tone down the spice. The cheese didn’t seem to be your no-milk-here, bland nacho “cheese” sauce, but rather melted cheddar. Overall, I thought the chili cheese dog was great, but the dog with everything was out of this world. The vinegar sourness of the sauerkraut blended perfectly with the sweetness of the ketchup and the spice of the chili, and ended with a sharp cheddar flavor. After eating my two dogs I had to go back for a third and had one with everything. Can’t say I’ll be coming back to Springfield any time soon but if I do I’ll be sure to make a stop at Gene’s weenie wagon.
Gene told me he’s open starting at 9am (!), and best as I can tell on Google Maps he’s at the corner of Elm and Main St. in Springfield, MA. I’d expect him to be closed Sundays, since he’s a pastor, but I’d bet he’s open every other day.