When you think of July Fourth celebrations, there are two things that immediately come to mind -- fireworks and Nathan's hot dogs.
This Independence Day, the sausage status quo will change when South Florida's own P.S. 561 will take their place as the new "official" hot dog at Coney Island in Brooklyn, replacing Nathan's Famous. Nathan's Famous, which opened in 1916 and has weathered many storms including the Great Depression, World War II, and Hurricane Sandy, has announced that they want to focus on their retail line, which is available at most supermarkets, including Publix.
The news came as a shock to P.S. 561's Aaron Merullo, who told Clean Plate Charlie that offering his hot dogs to savvy Brooklynites is a dream come true.
"Our entire concept is based on a New York City-style yellow school bus and old-school hip hop, so actually coming to New York is just amazing."
Merullo said that details are still being hammered out with Coney Island USA, the organization that sees to the preservation of all things Coney, since the iconic amusement /beach area of Brooklyn has strict guidelines regarding the cooking and presentation of all hot dogs sold in the neighborhood.
One such standard is that hot dogs must be made from beef only. Another, more archaic rule is that ketchup can never be directly put on a hot dog by a vendor or server since the condiment is considered a travesty in that section of Brooklyn (although a loophole remains in effect that ketchup can be offered with French fries and a customer can put the tomato-based product on their own hot dog without repercussion). The only "official" additions to a hot dog, according to New York City Statute #537.2.3 are "mustard (any and all, including yellow, brown, deli, and hot), sauerkraut ("kraut"), relish (green only), chili (beef or vegetarian), or onions (stewed or chopped, raw).
P.S. 561 will also take over the annual hot dog eating contest that sees international coverage on ESPN. Last year saw Joey Chestnut of San Jose, California break the world's record for eating 69 Nathan's Famous hot dogs in 10 minutes.
P.S. 561 still plans to maintain their food "bus" in South Florida.
As Merullo says, "We may be expanding to the Big Apple, but this is where we got our start. We're staying old school all the way."