“Delicious Hot Dogs!”
Ready for lunch? Your visit to Rhode Island isn't complete until you've tried the local version of the hot dog, known as hot weiners, bellybusters, destroyers, or gaggers (pronounced "weenuhs, bellybustuhs..." etc.) Hot weiners can be found at numerous locations throughout the state, including any of the New York System locations, but we prefer Wein-O-Rama in Cranston for their déclassé moniker and large retro-style sign. Their heart-attack-inducing menu is chock full of simple diner fare, from a more innocent time when no one worried about their cholesterol.Wein-O-Rama was started by Michael Sotirakos, an immigrant from Sparta, Greece, in 1962. In the mid-1950s, he and his wife had come to Rhode Island, where Sotirakos hoped to make a living as an aircraft mechanic. But jobs were scarce and there was zero chance that a Greek-speaking immigrant could get a position at Quonset Naval Base. So he reluctantly took a job as a short-order cook at his aunt and uncle's Original Coney Island restaurant, in Hoyle Square in Providence. There he learned to speak English and cook hot weiners.Hot weiners consist of a delicious weiner (usually smaller than a standard hot dog and cut, rather than tied off, at the ends), topped with mustard, meat sauce (finely chopped beef with "secret" herbs & spices), chopped onion, and celery salt on a steamed bun. Order a bunch at once and have the dubious pleasure of watching the greasy-aproned grill person prepare them "up d'ahm," meaning that he will line the buns up on his arm, up to the shoulder if necessary, while slopping on the ingredients. Health authorities frown on this practice, but have so far been unable to put a stop to it. After all, it's a tradition!
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