There has long been a certain stigma attached to the “movie theatre hot dog”. For the most part, the jokes and urban legends are completely unwarranted, as there is truly no difference between the hot dogs served in movie theatres and those served by any other concessionaire. The meat sources, brands, preparation methods, and product ages are the same at your local theatre as they are at the ballpark. However, just as there are unscrupulous vendors at any of the more “reputable” outlets, there are theatres that more than live up to the myths. Thus, I present three tales of hot dog horror:
“Resurrection dogs” – One of the unwanted side effects of a “dogeroo” cooked hot dog (a somewhat dated rotisserie style machine) is that the franks tend to dehydrate over time. Left rotating for a day, the once plump red wieners, begin to lose their color and take on a shriveled appearance. While still completely edible, the accepted practice is to discard such franks. Yet, one particularly frugal theatre owner developed a rather dubious method for “resurrecting” his dried frankfurters. At the conclusion of each business day, this individual would take the unsold dogs and place them in a jar filled with red Kool-Aid. Soaking overnight, the concept was to both re hydrate and dye the franks a reddish color; thus, ”resurrecting” the old dogs to a more visually appetizing state.
“Yesterdogs” – A normally upscale venue, which has been mentioned in an earlier post here, pinches a few pennies via the “yesterdog”. After closing, any unsold hotdog is removed from the bun and stored in the freezer overnight. The following morning, the franks are reheated and sold as new. Not surprisingly, the “yesterdogs” are lacking the taste and appearance of their fresh grill mates, but the difference is rarely noted by customers. The “yesterdog” moniker is entirely internal in nature and not something the theatre advertises to the public.
“Green side down” – Perhaps, the most shockingly distasteful hot dog horror tale took place at one of the major chains, in the mid 90′s. At the time, this chain maintained their prepared hot dogs in plastic “clamshells”, kept in warming cabinets. A perfectly acceptable procedure, as long as the hot dogs were sold in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, theatres with slower business levels began to encounter a problem with the franks turning a pale greenish/gray color, after sitting out for a few hours. Being that this discoloration tended to only occur on the side exposed to the air (i.e. the top), someone in the corporate office came up with a quick fix to the problem; “green side down.” The idea, which was sent out in an official memo, actually titled “green side down”, involved rotating the offending franks, so that the discolored side was facing in to the bun (i.e. downwards). Fortunately, more logical minds eventually prevailed and the company adopted another method for preparing their hot dogs, circumventing the issue all together. But, for a brief time, there was an unpleasant surprise hiding within far too many buns.
On a novel side note, one of the major suppliers of hot dog franks once approached several chains with the idea of burning corporate logos in to their franks, via a laser. To the best of my knowledge, nobody took them up on this offer, so we missed out on biting in to a dog emblazoned with “AMC”, “General Cinemas”, “Pacific Theatres”, etc.
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