Red Hot Dogs

July 8, 2010 · 64 comments · Print This Post

in Grilled, Maine

I’ve been missing Maine a lot recently. Now there’s a statement my twenty-five-year-old self never thought I’d utter out loud a mere five years ago, practically to the day, that I “escaped” to Boston. But here I am. These feelings became even more prevalent after a whirlwind Saturday a few weeks ago when I met my mother, sister, and grandmother for a joint birthday celebration lunch at the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company. Harraseeket Lunch is a cozy little place on the water located a few miles away from the shop-till-you drop insanity of the outlet shoppers who stalk the main streets of Freeport.

CK and I munched on fried clams and I doled out pretty baubles from Tis-Tik to my fellow June babies. Of course when I lived in Maine I still retained a lot of my picky eating habits so I wouldn’t have touched a clam with a ten foot poll, and would never have willingly chosen to eat one for lunch. As I sat with my family I recalled that until that day I had exclusively consumed hot dogs while sitting on the restaurant’s weathered red picnic tables.

After having lunch, CK and I drove back to Portland to see my friend Anna. Anna recently moved back to Portland from Boston and now resides in the same building in an apartment with an eerily similar layout to the one she lived in while we were both living there after college. Talk about being hit over the head with nostalgia…

Then we topped off my little trip down memory lane by going out for drinks at our favorite neighborhood bar The Downtown Lounge where a friend of mine from high school is  a bartender. Leon made me many martinis which of course led to some ridiculous shenanigans but eventually CK and I had to go. Before we left I insisted that CK drive me to the supermarket so I could buy the pièce de résistance of a Maine summer: red hot dogs.

I very tipsily skipped through the local Hannaford to the meat counter and scooped up two enormous packages of red hot dogs. The traditional brand that I grew up with, Jordan’s, went out of business years ago so I ended up with six pounds of Kayem Old Tyme Reds.

What’s so special about red hot dogs other than their bright red casings? Well, honestly unless you’ve tried one before it’s hard to explain. Simply put they just taste like summer. I like mine lightly browned on the grill and then topped with French’s yellow mustard. My mom likes her red hot dogs burned to a crisp. CK has been putting relish on the ones we’ve been grilling at home but I suspect he does that because he doesn’t like them. Obviously as I have 5 billion of these little red dogs in our freezer he has become less and less enthused when I pull them out to put on our new grill, but I still get excited every time. It’s comforting to have a little piece of home on your plate when you’re feeling a bit displaced. So I’ll keep eating my snappy little hot dogs until I can return to Maine again in person.

Have you ever had a red hot dog? Did you like it or were you completely freaked out by the fact that they’re the same shade as red velvet cake?

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nick (Macheesmo) July 8, 2010 at 10:03 am

Whoa! Those are really red! Definitely looks like summer.

Love it.

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2 Ryan July 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

Not for the first time, you have me salivating and reminiscing at the same time. I grew up on red hot dogs [Jordan's. *sniff*] and nothing compares to the snap! of biting into them.

I think they sell the Kayem’s at Shaw’s. Despite having grocery shopped sufficiently last night, guess where I’m stopping after work!

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3 Adrienne July 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

Red hot dogs FTW! I thought they were a Maine only thing but I’ve been told you can also find them at the Porter Square Shaw’s. I ate an obscene amount of these babies over the 4th up at my parents’ house, but the leftovers are in my fridge ready to be grilled.

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4 Rachel @ Fork it over, Boston! July 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

Wow, those look radioactive! When I lived in Rochester, NY, we had “red hots” – but those were really just regular old brownish-red hot dogs. The “red” differentiated them from “white hots,” a creepy-looking white hot dog that I haven’t seen anywhere outside of Rochester.

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5 Sues July 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Whoa these are crazy! I’ve never tried a red hot dog before, but I totally would… And would only be mildly freaked out. Perfect party food, especially with that bright yellow mustard :)

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6 Kate July 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Yeah, DTL! Too bad you weren’t here for longer, I would have loved to have a drink with you. Next time! And those red dogs sure are snappy- but it’s better than a steamed dog, which they sell down by the waterfront… and they’re a little mooshy.

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7 Janice July 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I’m writing to you from Rockport in the midst of my very first trip to Maine. I appreciate being clued in to the very red, red dogs. I had been frightened off and sticking with the fried clams.

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8 Keeley July 8, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I haven’t heard of or seen a red hot dog. New England seems very different (I was in Boston 2 weeks ago). I’m from the Philly area and I like my Dietz and Watson hot dogs, but I’d try a red one if I had the chance.

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9 Lindsey @ pickyeatings July 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I must admit that I have never even heard of red hot dogs. But now I kind of want to try them. Not to mention I love Kayem (not just because they are the official Fenway Frank) because they are made in Chelsea (go Chelsea!!).

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10 Kerstin July 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I haven’t seen these before but would definitely give one a try – hot dogs remind me of the 4th of July because that’s the one time I go out of my way to have them!

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11 jo July 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I’ve always wondered where the red dog tradition at bean suppers started. I still haven’t found the definitive answer.
Harraseeket s a family favourite for dining on the water. Now that Mom and SD live in ME year round it has begun to feel more like home and less like the summah place.

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12 julia July 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

Why do Mainer’s have bean suppers at all? Why would you want a room filled with people that just ate a ton of beans for dinner? That is what I desperatly want to know.

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13 Bernie Null October 24, 2013 at 6:25 am

Heat up a cold winter’s day!

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14 julia July 9, 2010 at 11:18 am

This was wonderfully written. I live in Maine now for the past nine years & have yet to eat a red hot dog. I just can’t get past the blood red color. I’m from NY where we specialize in white hot dogs – which have a lovely taste all their own. I may have to try one now.

Can’t wait to see what you write next time.

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15 LadyGouda July 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

Oh my goodness. Red Hot Dogs. The stuff of summer for us too, except now they go by RHDs for short. My dad cooks these up every weekend we are up in Maine, all summer long. He usually cannot wait until noon to do so, so we often have them as a really healthy “second breakfast” around 11. Something about that crunch when you bite through the red casings really makes these things special. I never eat hot dogs unless I am up at our lake house and my dad is grilling them up. He won’t let us use ketchup on them, only yellow mustard. And they must be cradled in JJ Nissen buns. YUM.

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16 Julia Barrett July 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm

completely freaked out

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17 Pat July 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I have never heard of a red dog. Can you find them in San Francisco CA?

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18 Karen@Mignardise July 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Don’t forget the “snap” they make when you bite ‘em!
And you must have seen the big hole on Middle street where Jordan’s used to be.
There’s no place like Maine in the summer!

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19 Peggy July 10, 2010 at 10:28 am

I grew up in upstate NY and LOVED these red hot dogs! I can’t find them anywhere here in Louisville and when I talk about them to friends and co-workers they just seem weirded out. lol But they don’t know what they’re missing!

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20 joan July 10, 2010 at 11:11 am

I have never had a red hot dog. I believe this is the first picture I have seen of one.! I think the color might freek me out a bit. :) Don’t know if I could eat one or not.

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21 Hänni July 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Freaky looking!

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22 erisgrrrl July 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

I lived in Bangor for a year right after college and LOVED the red hot dogs! Possibly better than the red hot dogs are the buns cut on top and steamed. For years after moving back to Indiana I missed the dogs but recently have been able to find them in our grocery store. My son is allergic to artificial colors… and well, there’s no shortage of red40 in those bad boys! So, we don’t eat them often. When we do it’s totally Maine for me! :D

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23 Bernie Null October 24, 2013 at 6:27 am

Where are you in Indiana? I am starting a Hot Dog Cart that will be serving these!

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24 Kelly July 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Hope all is well in Boston Erin. Thanks again for turning me on to the Zoku popsicle maker. I just made some mint lime white tea popsicles today that were quite yummy. Cannot wait to post the recipe and my review of this gadget!

How are you liking the loft? I was looking through your other blog and realized I think I know exactly where you are living (not trying to be a stalker, just walked by some lofts near Davis quite a bit) and if they are the lofts I am thinking of, they are incredibly gorgeous.

Hope all is well.

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25 Erin July 16, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I LOVE red hotdogs too! The candy apple red color and the “snap” of the all natural casing is imposable to resist! My favorite brand is Old Neighborhood natural casing red franks. () Really Tasty!!!! Now I’m hungry for one! :)

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26 Becky123 July 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Great post. These look a lot like the Glaziers hotdogs my dad grew up with. His version is very local to Northern NY. Whenever his travels take him up there, he brings back a cooler full. Kudos for only putting French’s yellow mustard on it. It’s the only condiment you’re allowed to put on it.

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27 Deb R July 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

Red Hot Dogs rock!

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28 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic July 30, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Oh wow, I haven’t had a red hot dog in YEARS!! These are the “normal” hotdogs in the Philippines, where I grew up. I never even bothered looking for them in Boston, I just assumed they weren’t available. I will be sure to make a trip to Shaw’s this weekend to look for them this weekend because now I am craving them!

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29 snoozychoc November 24, 2012 at 3:49 am

My brother and I used to play pirates on the Jordans Meat platform between the warehouse (?) and cold storage (?) buildings in Waterville when we were taking breaks from building Railroad Square Cinema with our dad. This would have been summer 1978. The building is still painted that shitty drab green, but the business’ that flourish in that space today are wonderful.
Yeah, those dogs had a real snap when you bit into them! I’m with you on a bit of char.
Scott

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30 Sherry July 31, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I’m not sure what you mean by Jordan’s went out of business years ago. Jordan’s are available in Maine in Walmart, and… you can ever order them online from a shop in Maine and have them shipped to you. Here’s the link:

http://exiles.stores.yahoo.net/redhotdogs.html

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31 Rudy September 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I love red dogs; but where can I buy less the 30Lbs

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32 Jennifer August 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

We are from Phoenix, AZ. We discovered red hot dogs in 2001 when we traveled to Brookton for a few weeks on Jacksonbrook and Drake Lakes. They are the best, split open and fried dry in a hot pan. Then butter and fry, in the same pan, the buns. Add Aunt Bert’s homemade relish and mustard and you have an amazing feast!

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33 Rudy September 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I had red dogs years ago and thought they were the best HD I’d ever had. I guy I worked with had them shipped from a deli in Boston. since then I’ve aways wanted to find a place I can buy them and have them ship. Its got to be the best. I’m a California boy if your wondering; nothing out here like red hots. PLEASE HELP ME OUT

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34 Bernie Null October 24, 2013 at 6:30 am

You can order them online very expensive to ship though.

Check W.A. Bean and Sons and Kayem on google

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35 Dr. A January 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Was introduced to Maine Red hot dogs, while visiting over Christmas…pretty interesting. The “snap” when you take a bite I beleive is a result of using the skin, or intestines. or something natural….different from common dogs found every where else. Everyone should try one…we do not have them in VA. I can see where someone that grew up on them would really reminisce when again they are found. RBA

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36 Nik October 2, 2013 at 8:22 am

You can order these wonderful hot dogs online at http://www.maineredhotdogs.com

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37 Dr. A January 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I thought they were referred to as Johnson Reds……

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38 Eric V April 6, 2011 at 8:39 am

One of the best kept secrets of Upstate New York is the red hot dog made by Glaziers. This is the best red hot dog I have tasted. They can be purchased online through http://www.glazierhotdog.com.

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39 tom little September 1, 2011 at 3:17 am

I found Jordens in my local grocery store here in Ct. Best dogs by far. O.ly they don’t. Advertise them you just ask. The store is gnazzos in Plainville,ct.

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40 Angela September 13, 2011 at 10:19 am

Hello Erin,
just came upon your blog for the first time…the red hot dog subject caught my attention. Being born and brought up in Maine, I think I was about 15 yrs old when I first realized that not all hot dogs of the world were red! I had never ate a “brown” hot dog until then, and quickly determined that I would probably try to avoid the brown ones at all costs (yuck!). Red is the only way to go! Unfortunately, having lived outside of Maine since my early twenties, red hot dogs cannot be found anywhere! I have made it a priority that during my 2 visits per year back home to Maine, I always stock up with Jordans red hot dogs to bring back to New York to bag and freeze those priceless little gems until the next trip to Maine when my supply has all but diminished. And yes…I said Jordans. I am not sure why you thought they went out of business? I just bought my most recent supply 2 days ago while on a trip to Maine for my nephew’s wedding. I am from northern Maine (Aroostook County). Maybe Jordans red hot dogs are not sold in the southern area? Anyway, just thought you would like to know they still exist. Here’s to yummy red hot dogs!

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41 toeknee December 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I too am from “the county” and there is a store in ellsworth maine called friends and family. RON the owner can and will ship out jordans as well as humpty dumpty chips….country kitchen donuts mine should b here Friday!

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42 Erin Cap September 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

My Grandparents (we called them Memere and Pepere)are from Lewiston(sp?), Maine. As a special treat they would order them and have them shipped all the way to CA once a year. My Pepere just passed this July and yesterday would have been his 90th… so I am on a mission to find these amazing special treats.. thank so much for this blog… Very happy tears :)

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43 Erin September 15, 2011 at 11:52 am

Terribly sorry to hear about your recent loss, but thank you for sharing your happy memories with me :) I certainly hope you can still have the hot dogs shipped. If you’re successful please let me know. I just moved to San Francisco and miss so many New England specific things now.

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44 Erin Cap September 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Found them… and the company is great I sent an email— the one on their Facebook not on the website– and they will be happy to ship! http://www.beansmeats.com/

Now to find the special buns!

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45 toeknee December 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Ellsworth maine…has a store called frends and family they will ship them. The buns can also b shipped they r by country kitchen
Ron and his wife are wonderful and mine should be here in tx this Friday!

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46 Karen January 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I lived in Maine for 10 years and miss the street vendors that served Red Hot Dogs on steamed buns the most! Now I’m living in the Mid-West and I’m trying desperately to find out how to get some. You’re website has brought back some wonderful memories. Thank you.

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47 Nik October 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

You can order these wonderful hot dogs online at http://www.maineredhotdogs.com

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48 Denis Oneill February 5, 2012 at 9:24 am

We miss these red hot dogs, moved down to south Carolina, does anyone no where I can oder them online…

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49 Nik October 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

You can order these wonderful hot dogs online at http://www.maineredhotdogs.com

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50 Nancy September 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I googled “red hot dogs” because I am sitting here eating one and wondered what their origin was. This is the second year in a row that I have bought 10 or more packages from my local upstate NY Hannaford store when they go on clearance after summer. They look terrible but they are the best hot dog I have ever had.

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51 Jeff November 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I’ve lived on the west coast of Florida for 7 plus years. Only been home 3 times. Just had a friend make a trip to Maine and he brought back $100 for us to split. Love them and your right. If you haven’t had them they’re hard to describe.

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52 Alisha March 31, 2013 at 8:27 pm

5 years ago I moved from Iowa to Alabama. Growing up in Iowa I was never exposed to these red hot dogs. When I first got down here I thought….What in the!? I admit I was quite freaked out, but no matter where you go down here, if people are grilling they are grilling the red dogs- so- needless t say I have gotten use to them and I admit they are quite tasty! Isn’t it funny how different parts of the country are exposed to different things? Funny to think that something as common as a hot dog can be so different in different corners of life :)

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53 Syretta April 15, 2013 at 1:54 am

Where in Washington can I find these delicious red skinned hot dogs ?
Thanks

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54 Nik October 2, 2013 at 8:20 am

You can order these wonderful hot dogs online at http://www.maineredhotdogs.com

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55 Cathy Hagemike September 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Really would like to find Schultz hot dogs here in the state of Virginia. I really dislike all hot dogs except for Schultz but I can not find them here in the fine state of Virginia. I will tell you that these hot dogs are the best in the world and I pinky swear over that.

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56 Nik October 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

You can order these wonderful hot dogs online at http://www.maineredhotdogs.com

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57 Azzie September 23, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Never had a better hot dog then those! I wish I could find them here in NY but the only time I’ve been able to get them is when I would go up to Maine every summer as a kid!

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58 Nik October 2, 2013 at 8:20 am

You can order these wonderful hot dogs online at http://www.maineredhotdogs.com

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59 Nik October 2, 2013 at 8:19 am

You can order these wonderful hot dogs online at http://www.maineredhotdogs.com

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60 Taterhead June 26, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Here in North Carolina, the only GOOD hotdog is a RED hotdog-when at home that’s all we cook-when we go out and the dogs are tan/light brown I cringe-the smart restaurants offer both-the red ones they call red or southern classic-the other tan dog who cares-I’m not eating em-Red hotdogs are real prevalent in eastern NC-also try the (southern) casserole which is made with red hotdogs/bacon/baked beans-delicious

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