Build a Better Hot Dog Bun and the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door.

Photo by Angie Naron.

Photo by Angie Naron.

In Waltham, MA last week, at a cookout at the house my niece is renting with her friends, I experienced newfangled hot dog buns. They appear to the naked eye to resemble simply slices of white bread folded over, but no. Well, yes, but there’s more going on than that. Somehow, in the baking process, they are shaped and crisped into action, ready to perform the bun function, supporting the dog as authoritatively as any bun out there. (No slice of folded-over white bread could do that.) They just taste better than normal buns, that’s all, being nearly crustless. You get delicious bread in every bite, not useless crust, and the bread not only supports the hot dog literally, but taste-wise. Being less intrusive in the total flavor experience than a big ol’ crusty bun, it lets you taste the dog better, while complementing it perfectly with its ever-so-slightly-toasty white bread goodness. Whoever thought of it is a genius.

Well, it turns out the buns aren’t newfangled, and whoever thought of them might be long gone. My research turns up that they are actually called “New England style hot dog buns,” so, just like Thickly Settled road signs, this bun is an indigenous regional treasure. I’m picking up hints that the origin of the bun style may be Portuguese (which makes sense, given the large Massachusetts Portuguese-American population in such towns as New Bedford and Fall River, south of Boston, as well as Boston itself, and in Rhode Island). Internet message boards are full of people who have fallen in love with these New England hot dog buns and are desperately seeking them in areas outside New England without success. According to my niece’s friend Laine (mouth pictured above), the ones at the party were purchased at Costco, but it must be that only New England Costcos have them. Wonder Bread sells a “New England Style” hot dog bun on the web; I can’t tell from the picture on that web page whether the buns inside the bag are really the kind I had, but for $4.75 a dozen, it might just be worth biting.

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11 Comments on “Build a Better Hot Dog Bun and the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door.”

  1. rovronr says:

    For a native Chicagoan, this is HERESY. There is only one hot dog.
    It is available at SRO on South Dearborn, and it comes in a very, very traditional bun.
    I call it a “Chicago Lobster”. Take that, New England!

  2. I had to suffer through six years of these things in school in Boston and Providence.

    They blow!

    Reason: because they do indeed look and taste like Wonder Bread folded over…a terrible accompaniment to a hot dog, like something you might get at home when you were 5 and your mom ran out of buns. Not only that, but you also have to contend with the New England custom that griddles and butters these gaggers.

    You know the old joke:

    A guy in a New England diner orders a hamburger and a hot dog. The waitress comes back first with just the hamburger, which she has is holding in her armpit. He guys asks why there, she tells him so it will be kept warm.

    He says:

    “Cancel the hot dog!”

  3. One of my biggest quibbles with living in the Sarasota area for six months is they have never heard of the NE hot dog bun…and I have to use those crusted buns that are sliced through the middle…I can’t grill the sides and the wonderful onions and condiments spill out all over my clothes…the buns cut on the top act as a great receptacle and one can lather the dog with mustard, spin it in the bun and the mustard lands inside the trough and doesn’t squish all over your face and fingers.
    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they can’t ship the buns to the southern markets…like they ship bananas, avocados etc. from the southern regions to the North…one man’s “tradition” is another man’s innovation. Things that originate in Chicago aren’t necessarily traditional or everybody’s cup of tea…

    • hazeleyes says:

      I agree with you! I am one unfortunately BIMLIE, and I really miss the hot dog buns of my childhood, buttered and griddled and filled with lobster. Or crab salad, or shrimp salad, or fried scallops. Now living in Chicagoland, where hot dog buns fill one’s mouth with so much bread the hot dog cannot be tasted. Take that Chicago.

      However, to be fair to this gorgeous city and its imaginative food purveyors, the food group known as “Chicago hot dogs” (not simply a hot dog but an otherworldly concoction that I could eat at every meal) would be enhanced by the New England style buttered and griddled hot dog bun.

  4. Chris says:

    These are my favorite hot dog buns of all time. We have them available in this area (northwestern PA) through one grocery store chain until a year ago. I miss them.

  5. Intefrefs says:

    Wow loved reading your post. I submitted your rss to my google reader.

  6. hazeleyes says:

    Naron: the bun in your hand needs to be buttered and griddled so that it develops a thin buttery crustiness. Perfect!

  7. Wendy says:

    I only just recently discovered that these wonderful New England Style Hot Dog Buns are carried by the Wegman’s grocery store chain. I will be purchasing them today, and having lobster rolls for dinner!! Yum!!

  8. Juanita Hildreth says:

    Is it possible to make bun like these? When do you cut them, before baking or after?
    Thanks. jh

  9. Carol says:

    King Arthur has the pan, the recipe, and the instructions on their blog. I have never had a NE hot dog bun but just bought the pan and plan to give it a try.
    http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/classic-new-england-hotdog-bun-pan

  10. The crust is the tasty part. There’s nothing “delicious” about white bread.

    Some years back, a guy created a boat-shaped bun you could just drop the dog into. I was looking for that, but apparently it didn’t catch on.


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