Thursday, August 12, 2021

Can a hot dog bun make a sandwich?

     Space is limited....
     Well, okay, "space" is not limited. In fact, space is unlimited, extending out billions of lightyears beyond our ability to see an end. There's more than enough.
     What I meant was, "space in a newspaper is limited." Which is why, when I wrote about my visit S. Rosen's bakery Aug. 2, I never got around to addressing an existential question that long puzzled me, one I meant to examine and did indeed raise with one of Alpha Baking's owners, Mark R. Marcucci.
     Why don't people use hot dog buns for sandwiches?
     Because I will take a hamburger bun and put, oh, chicken on it, or even bologna, in pinch. Tuna salad, certainly. A fish fillet.
     But I'd never do that to a hot dog bun. Something seems wrong with that, though my wife does it when circumstances arise—an extra bun, a taste for a sandwich. I took it as an example of her sometimes shocking economy. Not quite washing and re-using a Baggie, but in the same realm of excessive thrift. Pressing a hot dog bun to an unnatural purpose.
      Like many, I had confused my own personal practices for what the whole world does.
     "I've seen all sorts of sandwiches being made on hot dog buns," Marcucci replied.
     "He will take a hot dog bun and put jelly on one side, peanut butter on the other," said Stephanie Powell, director of marketing at Alpha Baking. "It's transcendent."
     And away we went.
     "You can also do a vegetarian version," she said. "Grilled carrots."
     "Grilled asparagus," added Marcucci.

      A big grilled carrot on a hot dog bun! That sounds luscious. Can't you just see that? With some kind of interesting sauce. Maybe it caught my attention because I love carrots—I don't think I've mentioned that before. Carrot muffins, carrot cake, carrot soup—we served ginger carrot soup at our wedding.  You just don't get enough carrots in life, and when you do, they're inevitably the sliced and boiled form that is still good, being carrots, but not as great as a grilled carrot. I'll even eat raw carrots.      
     "Marinate it in soy sauce," said Powell. "You get the same kind of 'snap' as in a hot dog. My mother's a vegetarian."
     This is an area that cries out  for experimentation. You know what I bet would be good on a hot dog bun? Sloppy Joe. It's hard to eat Sloppy Joe on a hamburger bun—the bun tends to flop and the contents leak. You have to resort to a knife and fork, which feels like a sort of surrender. But a hot dog bun, with its brawnier "hinge," would support the hot runny Joe more effectively conveying it to your lips. I'll have to try it, if I can get over the mental hump of eating something other than a hot dog on a hot dog bun. 
     I can be surprisingly rigid that way: I still have never mixed two different types of breakfast cereal, which my wife does all the time, while I twirl a finger in the air like a Victorian villain.   
     "It's miscegenation!" I cry, with semi-serious outrage.
     "Old men ought to be explorers," T.S. Eliot wrote. Still, I can't say I'm ready to try one of her insane combinations: Cheerios and Bran Flakes, or whatever. But she did have a practice that I always gagged at. She would take fresh blueberries, and put them on her cereal. Which I thought was just gross, for 30 years or so. But curiosity got the better of me, and I gave into it, having some blueberries on my Wheat Chex. And you know what? It was good, so good that I went from never having my cereal that way to always eating it that way. From never doing it to having to do it. The passion of the convert. Now, if there are no blueberries, I can't even enjoy a bowl of Wheat Chex. I have to wait until we get some more blueberries. Which shows you just how dangerous experimentation can be. We cling to the old ways for a reason.


  1. One way to make sure you always have blueberries, or any other fruit or vegetable, is to buy them frozen. For many years, I ate my breakfast brown rice with raisins, then my nurse sister mentioned that perhaps fresh grapes would deliver less sugar and more fiber, which I took to heart and for many more years, ate my rice with grapes, until one day my daughter brought out frozen fruit for my grandson to eat. Voila! You just pour a dollop of berries into a bowl in the evening while setting the timer on the rice cooker and just add a bit of Greek yogurt and some skim milk, and with hardly more effort than opening a box of cheerios, you're greeted by a hearty, healthy breakfast, which nudge, nudge, also does great things for the elimination process.


    1. I agree about the frozen fruit, Tate. Though, since I'm not wild about blueberries, as noted below, I prefer the frozen "wild" blueberries that are smaller. The bonus is that you don't need to get them out the night before; they'll thaw out on your cereal as you're making coffee, or whatever. : )

  2. Pulled pork is excellent on hot dog buns. Avoids the same Sloppy Joe problem that occurs with hamburger buns.

  3. Gotta say, this is the kind of whimsical post I love.

    "I'll even eat raw carrots." Have I been living in an alternate universe, or aren't the vast majority of carrots eaten raw?

    "You just don't get enough carrots in life." I do. You're welcome to have some of mine, as I'm pretty tired of them.

    I forget what prompted it, but after being right on the same page with you about mixing cereals -- while having watched my wife do it for decades -- I ended up going over to the dark side. Only 2 at a time, though -- it's not like this Victorian is conducting orgies...

    I'm not really fond of blueberries, but occasionally eating them on cereal is the primary way that I consume them.

    As for the main topic of hot dog buns, I was going to say that it's because sandwich meat is mostly round, but a.) that's not really true, and b.) that doesn't keep the sub sandwich from ruling the nation in a bun that's essentially the same shape as a hot dog bun.

  4. You're reluctance to follow your good wife's insane suggestions would seem to put you in a class with Phillip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, who wrote in a letter to his young son: "Women are only children of a larger growth. A man of sense only trifles with them, plays with them, humors and flatters them...but he neither consults them about, nor trusts them with serious matters."


  5. Having way too much of a sweet tooth, I have mixed sweetened and unsweetened cereal for years. And bananas go with any cereal. I like the sloppy joe plan, definitely giving that a try.

  6. Born in Chicago, raised in Chicago, lived most of my life in Chicago. Yet, I nver cared much for hot dogs, probably because I spewed hot dog chunks and beans all over a neighbor's kitchen when I was very young. Unless I was at a ballgame, I hardly ever consumed hot dogs as a kid.

    When I got older, I discovered Smokie Links, which sold at Wrigley for a buck...and brats, at my in-laws' cookouts. Those are the only adult uses I've ever had for hot dog buns, until my wife began using them for Sloppy Joes.

    When I finally moved to Ohio, I learned that you don't need a hot dog bun at all. I went to county fairs and the Ohio State Fair (maybe America's largest), and found corn dogs! On sticks!

  7. Sloppy Joes on hot dog buns works great, I've done that for years plus I stick some potato chips in for a bit of crunch. Try using the buns for mini subs, tuna or chicken salad, or PB&J with a whole banana.


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