Skeeter’s “World Famous Hot Dogs”
After leaving Scranton, Sam and I had a host of adventures: the Luray Caverns with their crazy stalacpipe organ; almost barfing in the vertigo-inducing tunnel of Wonder Works; backpacking the Smokies and having the cute woodland creatures eat half of a lunch and breakfast while we slept; drinking our faces off in Asheville; the hot springs of the aptly named Hot Springs, North Carolina; visiting with my fabulous great-aunt and uncle, eating twice at their restaurant the Pancake Pantry; and playing Hillbilly golf with my parents.
After all that fun Sam and I were betting on an uneventful trip back home to New England–it’s hard to sustain that much pleasure over nine days. But dammit, fun has a way of finding and biting us in the ass, because we just happened to stumble upon Skeeter’s “World-Famous Hot Dogs” in Wytheville, Virginia while looking for a place to have lunch.
Off of the exit from I-81 there were tons of cutsey signs on the roadside directing traffic to different restaurants–the only of these that I remember that wasn’t a chain restaurant was Skeeter’s. It shone like a brilliant star in an otherwise dead and dull sky, beckoning me towards the light.
Apparently Skeeter’s is located in the childhood home of Woodrow Wilson’s wife, Edith Bolling Wilson. Be that as it may, I didn’t come to raid the panty drawer of some long-gone First Lady–I wanted to grab ahold of a Skeeter-Dog and never let go!
Skeeter-Dogs are the slaw dogs that West Virginia is so well-known for: a steamed hot dog & bun with chopped raw onions, mustard, chili sauce, and coleslaw to top it all off. Skeeters uses a red hot made by Valleydale, which is what the hanging weenie above is advertising. Apparently Valleydale was located near Wytheville but now is much further away; so far, in fact, that Skeeter’s has to order a very large amount of red hots just to get their stand supplied. Lucky for them they seem to be the most popular hot dog stand in the surrounding area, having sold over 7 million hot dogs since they opened in 1920.
Skeeter’s was a no-frills hot dog stand–my favorite type. A couple of older ladies took the orders while a young woman (pictured above) kicked out the orders. As you can see above, to her right she had the steamer brimming with red hots, in front of her was the pot of chili and a couple of trays for the onions, and to her left was a tupperware container filled with cheese sauce. Simplicity at its best.
I ordered one of each dog on the menu: an original Skeeter-Dog, and a Skeeter-Dog with cheese. I ate the cheese dog first and was happy to have done so–the cheese dulled the finely-blended flavor of the spicy chili sauce and the creamy coleslaw, but it didn’t neuter the flavor enough that I didn’t enjoy it.
A quick aside: I’ve been reading the West Virginia Hot Dog Blog religiously for some time now. I drool unconsciously while imagining the prospect of a great slaw dog joint around every corner, and aspire for our blog to be every bit as great as theirs. Having gotten as close to West Virginia as we did (I-81 runs though, and then parallel, to the state for many, many miles) and not try a slaw dog was pretty tough to handle, but our schedule demanded it. Eating the original Skeeter-Dog made up for our lack of diversion to West Virginia–it was amazing! As I took my first bite the heavens parted and displayed the wonders that lay in the great beyond. In short, there may be no dog as great as the slaw dog.
If you can’t already tell, I was pretty happy with our side-trip to Skeeter’s “World Famous Hot Dogs”. I can’t imagine a better hot dog to end the trip with; it left me feeling that, even though I was leaving the south and the great state of Virginia, I was going to be tasting that hot dog for many more miles down the road.