Marketing the Hot Dog
Chances are, there was some form of tubular meat at your Fourth of July barbecue: My family had some grilled chipotle pork sausages to accompany our ribeyes; no doubt kielbasa, brats, and chorizo made appearances at holiday gatherings across the country. But for sheer culinary ubiquity, I'm sure it was the modest all-American hot dog that beat them all out, whether it was the 155 million hot dogs consumed this past weekend (July 4 is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year), or the 62 dogs Joey Chestnut scarfed down at the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest at Coney Island.
So while you can argue that wieners don't need any extra publicity (insert shameful-yet-fascinating political sex scandal here), the Connecticut Tourism Board recently announced it had created an official Hot Dog Trail, which maps out 10 hot dog hot spots across the state. Among those getting a shout out: New Britain's Capitol Lunch for its hot dog with the works and meat sauce; Portland's Top Dog Hot Dog truck for its Cajun Dog; and Fairfield's Super Duper Weenie for its New Englander dog with homemade hot relish.
How much does inclusion on the Trail actually help sales? "It has definitely created a buzz in the area which has increased business," says Art Ververis, manager of Capitol Lunch. Adds filmmaker Mark Kotlinski (whose film A Connecticut Hot Dog Tour aired on the Documentary Channel this weekend): "We did taste tests to see what made each dog special. In the end we included a number of well known places as well as a few surprises."
All good for a state not particularly known for hot dogs—and it's interesting to note that the Connecticut Tourism Board has also recently launched popular wine, beer, and ice cream trails that, while certainly tasty, are also not usually items associated with The Constitution State. "It just made sense to string together the best [of each category] and let the traveler come to their own conclusion," says State Tourism Director Randy Fiveash. "It makes finding these hidden gems easier for people from out of town."
In any case, I'm all for calling attention to local eateries that would otherwise go unnoticed. Especially if they happen to be delicious.
CLARISSA CRUZ | Columnist | Inc.com Contributor
Clarissa Cruz is the Fashion Features Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the former Style Editor of People magazine and has written for Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Food & Wine, and Budget Travel.