How do you mess up a hot dog?

Everyone at the Phoenix offices has been rhapsodizing about Tasty Burger. It has been the subject of many office conversations. Its Facebook plaudits abound. Finally, I thought, a good fast-food place less than a block away. So excited was I, I waited two whole weeks before I ventured over this afternoon.

Tasty Burger's biggest selling point was the fact that it sells hot dogs. I am a native Chicagoan; my blood is comprised of encased meats. My bones are made of buns, my heart of relish and sport pickles. That said, I'm in no way a Chicago-style purist. I love Hot Doug's as much as any other foodie; I appreciate NYC dogs in spite of their strange skin. I've even been known to use ketchup. So it was with an open mind that I cut through the alley to Boylston street.

Looking at the menu printed on the side of the building, my heart thrilled at the many varieties of dog but sank when I realized they each cost $8. A hot dog should never cost more than $5, and that's pushing it. Never, ever ever should it cost $8. No matter how you dress it up, a hot dog conisists of dubious animal parts, and I love it for that. As it turns out, Tasty Burger's dogs aren't even 100% beef. That, my friend, is gross. No matter what grease-spackled Chicago hell pit you find yourself in, you are assured a Vienna Beef frank: all-beef, all-kosher, all-delicious.


I was further dispirited when I learned that the Chicago dog had "salad" on it. Jesus, people, do your homework. The Chicago-style is the gold standard of hot dogs the world over; lists of its ingredients abound and none of them include "salad." Resisting the urge to abort my mission, I opted for the Boston-style instead.

It's a really nice day out, and the shaded outdoor tables looked like an appealing place to park. Soon, however, I realized that the outside seating was reserved for those who wanted table-service. Table service for a hot dog is pretty ridiculous. A tip on top of a bill that already came to over $10 for, again, a hot dog (and a diet Coke), would have sent me over the edge. So I opted for the parking lot.

As contemplated my lonely hot dog, unaccompanied by the fries or onion rings I was too cheap to buy, I was grossed out. For one thing, it came wrapped in foil. Who wraps a hot dog in foil? When I opened the foil, I found a lurid monster three times the size of a normal hot dog, slathered in a sticky, overpoweringly sweet red pepper relish that immediately got all over my fingers. A hot dog should be a self-contained unit that you can eat while walking down the street. This was not fast food, this was chaos.

I bit in. The dog wasn't bad. It wasn't a glorious, juicy marvel, but it was most assuredly a hot dog. Soon, however, I realized its ridiculous size sent the precarious balance between dog, bun and condiments into a tailspin. That large, a hot dog becomes a strangely chewy challenge that makes you think about the meat. I had trouble getting to the end. As I finished this pretentious abomination while sitting on concrete, I felt sad, alienated, and ripped-off.

When I came back to the office, my coworkers helpfully pointed out that the place is called Tasty Burger, not Tasty Hot Dog. Next time I'll go for a cheebee. If Tasty Burger is reading, I beseech you to lower your prices. If you want to cheat the tourists and sausage-ignorant office workers, by all means, keep your current price model. If you want to avoid the outraged screams of the hot dog cognoscenti, make a them one-third the size of your current monolith and charge $3.

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