The quest is finished. I have had a hot dog a day for the past month. Today was day 31 and I went to another long standing establishment- a joint that has been open since 1920: Nick's Original Coney Island Weiners at 534(ish) South Main Street in Fall River, Massachusetts.
I chose Nick's as the final stop for a couple of reasons. First, it was fairly close to where I was hanging out this weekend. Second, along with Casey's Diner (in business since 1890) and George's Coney Island (in business since 1918), Nick's represents as one of the three oldest hot dog joints in Eastern Massachusetts. These three hot dog joints are the icons of the industry in this area- I would have been remiss had they not been included in the quest. So Nick's completed the trifecta.
It's a small shop that hasn't changed much in its 91 years. The little school desks date back to 1894 and came from a school in Tiverton, Rhode Island. All the desks are right handed- back in those days if you were a lefty, the teachers "retrained" you to write right handed.
Current owners Fred and Marcy Beaudry have added to the menu. They serve a lot of fish dishes on Thursday and Friday nights, but the main attraction is the hot dogs and related fare.
One bit of related fare is Nick's Coffee Milk. Coffee milk is a staple drink in hot dog joints in these parts and Nick's has the only dairy infused coffee milk in existence in Massachusetts. Coffee milk is like chocolate milk, except a coffee syrup is used to make it instead of chocolate syrup. It's quite good.
Most coffee milk these days is mixed fresh or distributed in plastic containers. At Nick's instead of coming in plastic containers, the coffee milk comes in the old school, metal dairy containers. They're able to serve it this way because they're grandfathered in on the codes.
Another signature item at Nick's is the hand cut fries. They go through 70 pounds of potatoes a day on average- one by one.
They have a unique and proprietary frying system that cranks out the fresh cut fries nice and crispy. Most of the fresh cut fries I have had tend toward the soggy side. These were YUMMY!
Of course the biggest item is the Coney Island hot dogs. They cook up the Coney Island sauce fresh daily. The original owner, Nick Pappas, brought the recipe to Fall River from Philadelphia. He had befriended a Coney Island hot dog stand operator who had perfected his recipe while working at the original Nathan's on Coney Island. The Philadelphia vendor gave Nick the recipe with two caveats: don't share the recipe and STAY OUT OF PHILLY! To this day, the original recipe remains unchanged and is treated like a state secret at Nick's. They have added a spicier version of the sauce which is the original recipe with the addition of some "Cajun spices" to heat things up a bit.
Nick's has lots of cache' in the hot dog world as many famous people have eaten there. The wall is covered with photos of folks who have eaten there.
Rocky Marciano was a regular. His family still stops in to this day.
Bobby Kennedy ate at Nick's.
So did this guy!
Carl Switzer, Alfalfa and George "Spanky" McFarland from the Little Rascals have chowed Nick's Coneys.
Curly, Larry and Moe ate here too.
Perhaps the most notable recent visitor was President Bill Clinton who stopped by while still in office. He stayed in the limo while the Secret Service guys came in for the dogs.
...and Jack Haley- the tin man from the classic 1939 film the Wizard of Oz all scarfed down Coney Island hot dogs at Nicks. There is so much history here.
But Nick's is all about the hot dog- the Coney Island hot dog to be exact. Properly dressed, it is composed of a Kayem Old Tyme frank on a steamed roll. The mustard goes on the dog first, then the sauce, then it's topped with chopped onions.
I ordered one and....
And thus the 2011 Eat a Hot Dog a Day in honor of National Hot Dog Month quest came to a close.
Stop by Nick's for a Coney Island dog, coffee milk and fries. You will LOVE it! Tell Fred and Marcie "the Hotdogman sent me."
Happy National Hot Dog Month!!!!!!