Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K (Week 35): King Weenie

Hot dog restaurants and I, we have a history. In high school, I worked at W.C. Franks, the now-defunct hotdog franchise out of Nebraska. There were two locations in Fort Collins: in Campus West, where Jim’s Wings is now, and on Harvard Street, which currently houses Nyala Ethiopian Cuisine. I worked most often at Harvard Street.

Our uniform was khaki pants, a disco-slick polyester shirt in a mottled terra-cotta brown, and a Styrofoam boater hat. (I so wish I had a picture.) We served regular, foot-long, and ¼ pound hot dogs, and polish sausage, any of which could be doctored up with onion, relish, kraut, chili, and/or cheese. The aforementioned meat tubes heated on a rolling grill like this one. We also had sodas and soft-serve ice cream, complete with hot fudge. (The ice cream was a mixed bag because we could eat it, but we also had to clean out the machine.)

I don’t know how long I worked there—maybe one year (that felt like five). After every shift, I went home reeking of hot dogs, with canned orange cheese dried on my disco shirt. All-you-can-eat footlong nights were especially awful, as they attracted every male student-athlete from miles around, all eager to eat an insane amount of hotdogs for one low price. Besides cheap eats, the other draw was the arcade. Centipede, Joust, Galaga, Star Wars…we had all the good ones. Of course, when I was working, I could only watch the other kids playing them.

Now, I eat about one hot dog a year, usually at a ball game. But in the spirit of today’s letter “K,” I convinced my family that we should have lunch downtown at King Weenie.

When we arrived, I was surprised to learn that King Weenie is not a restaurant but a store-front food window. I guess I've never looked that closely as I've passed by. At first, I was a bit disappointed—no chance of finding a video game there—but I changed my mind when it dawned on me that my hair wouldn’t be absorbing any hot dog smell. There was only one employee working, and she was friendly but too busy to form a hot-dog-sister bond with me by discussing the finer points of food-service cans of chili.










King Weenie has soft serve, too, and we opted for it in drink form. My boys were happy with their dogs and chocolate shakes—so much so that they told me they were glad I’d suggested our outing. We enjoyed the beautiful weather while we ate at the sidewalk table and watched people passing by. I ordered a Chicago Dog, which had all the appropriate fixins—though the relish was not true Chicago acid-green. I have to say, the dog was pretty good, even without Wrigley Field around it.

King Weenie offers a lot of hot dog for a reasonable price…and, for me, a not-too-traumatizing trip down "mystery meat" memory lane.

12 comments:

Julie said...

Hi, Jenny! I just discovered your blog through the A-Z Challenge. I loved reading this post! The King Weenie picture is so funny. I enjoyed reading about W.C. Franks too, felt like a trip back in time. Great post!

Angela Felsted said...

Hot dog places are fun. When I was in college, I ate a lot of hot dogs. Mostly because they're cheap.

Hart Johnson said...

*giggles* I tend to be a street vendor only hot dog eater--they are for when you are walking around busy, but need to eat. (maybe that gives away that I'm not a chili dog fan... onions, mustard... maybe cheese...

Seams Inspired said...

Oh, you brought back memories of Hot Dog on a Stick for me! LOL Haven't had a hot dog in a long time. Perhaps I'll add them to the grocery list this week. :o)

Visiting from the A to Z Challenge. Great 'K' post. Happy Wednesday! :o)

Karen Walker said...

That's a great name. I grew up on Nathan's Hot Dogs. Just discovered you thru a-z challenge. Nice to "meet" you.
Karen

Plain Jane said...

There is a famous hot dog place in Los Angeles (Pinks) but I never ate there. When I have a hot dog craving, I always go to 7-11 and enjoy it with the free chili and cheese sauce. Nothing else tastes quite as good.

Monti said...

Thank you for a great descriptive post. Hope you'll use it in a book someday!

Also, thank you for visiting my blog. It's fun to meet folks because of A to Z!

Monti
NotesAlongTheWay

Alana said...

Hi - stopping by via A to Z and just wanted to comment that I love the concept of your blog! (Re)discovering your home town - what a treat and fun resource for visitors and locals. Fabulous.

~alana
(blogging a through z at http://writercize.blogspot.com)

Jenny said...

Thanks for visiting, everyone, and for your great hot dog stories. Hot dogs are strangely compelling, I think :-)

It's great to meet all you A to Z-ers!

Todd Leach said...

I can't go in a Home Depot without one in my hand...

Darrin.. said...

I'm getting ready to write an article on W.C. Franks, and came across your post while doing some Google searches. The W.C.'s on campus west was my hangout as a kid. Loved the foot longs, and of course the nacho's. I pumped many a quarter into those video games, and the jukebox as well. Odessy was right around the corner where the "Headbangers" usually hung out, and we'd sometimes venture over there for a game of pool, or to catch up with some of our head bangin' pals. Good memories!

Jenny said...

Darrin, thanks for sharing your W.C. memories. Good luck with the article!