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John Meets the Duchess of Connecticut

August 31, 2011
by

I have to say … the flies were a bit of a turn-off.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Let me back up. We were in the fourth leg of a seven-hour jaunt from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, the return trip of our now-annual pilgrimage to Sesame Place. On the way down we had, of course, stopped in Fairfield for a dog at Super Duper Weenie. (The missus commented, “Did it seem better to you last year?”) On the way back we had already left that exit and option behind and hunger, cruel and fickle mistress that she is, was pointing at every roadside stop she saw. But we knew 0nly a dog would suffice.

I used to work with a woman who talked nostalgically about hanging out at Duchess, a Connecticut restaurant chain, and on both sides of the ride I’d been taunted by big “Grilled to Thrill” billboards featuring gargantuan hot dogs. As we came up to exit 40, hunger made it clear she wasn’t planning to wait any longer.

"Works, sir?" "Well, maybe for you it does..."

A near-empty fast food joint is never a good sign. Neither is one with a few flies coursing gaily around the counter. Despite this, I bellied up and ordered one chili dog and one “works.” Someday soon I will learn to stop being fooled by terms like “works,” “super” or “supreme.” It doesn’t mean they’re going flat-out over-the-top rock-n-roll with the toppings (despite what my brain is telling me). No, it means two, maybe three toppings, one of which isn’t mustard. In this case, mustard, relish and sauerkraut.

Words like "velvety" let me get in touch with my feminine side.

The chili was a surprise, smooth and velvety and just a little tangy. The dog wasn’t exactly swimming in it; apparently it’s all about moderation when you’re grilling to thrill. The sauerkraut on the works dog had a good, sharp flavor to it. It was probably the best part of the thing. The dogs are griddled and split, as good CT hot dogs tend to be, and showed their griddle badges proudly. A nice snap to the casing made for a decent dog. These, by the by, were the “long” dogs, running $3.79 a pop. Not a bargain.

So hunger had her way with me along Route 95 and I guess I didn’t mind so much–airborne pestilence aside. I don’t know that I’d hurry back to have a Duchess dog, knowing what else is along the road, but I know it’s there.

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