Traditional Hot Dog Vendors Disappearing From NYC Streets

Those That Specialize Face Stiff Competition From Carts That Serve Everything

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When you think of food in the Big Apple, the hot dog is about as “New York” as it gets.

But those street-side vendor carts are in transition.

“The New York hot dog is part of our history, part of our culture,” City Councilman Dan Garodnick told CBS 2’s Katie Fehlinger on Wednesday.

Brightly colored umbrellas seem to beckon people to feast on the traditional dog.

“And then you have the ketchup and mustard — just classic,” customer Jennifer Call said.

But the iconic snacks — and the vendor carts that sell them — have undergone a facelift. Now, you can get almost anything.

“There’s dessert trucks, and there’s ice cream trucks,” Chelsea resident Nita Nehru said.

“The fancy waffles, fancy chicken, sushi,” added Andrew Pacifico of the Upper West Side.

And they’re all creating competition for the tried and true hot dog.

Vendor Mohamed Elshamy said he sets up his cart strategically to make sure his dogs will sell.

“Here in the tourist areas, they just like the regular hot dogs,” Elshamy said.

It’s a pretty simple process. The hot dogs heat up in a bin of hot salty liquid, giving them that slightly soggy texture. But nowadays a lot of vendors cook right on their built-in grills. Part of that switch came from permits.

Now, many vendors are finding it necessary to sell more than just hot dogs in order to stay competitive. Councilman Garodnick, who said he loves the hot dogs with his favorite mustard and sauerkraut, wants to see the street-side food trucks meet certain health standards.

“They taste great. I would like to know that they are safe and that they are clean and free of problems,” Garodnick said.

So he proposed a grading system that would rate vendor carts with a letter grade similar to the system now used in restaurants. It’s food for thought since diners Fehlinger talked to said they worry about vendor truck cleanliness.

“I kind of test the waters by seeing how many people are on line. If there’s a lot then I’ll go,” Nehru said.

Councilman Garodnick’s grading system has already received an endorsement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the proposed plan would include input from the Department of Health.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Jamie k

    Wow it’s just an article people….

  • Jack Beller

    As VP of; New York’s oldest manufacturer of street carts, trucks, trailers and kiosks; I’ve been involved in the cart manufacturing end of the business here in New York, literally all my life. My father Ed Beller & his partner Marc Monies designed and manufactured the very first stainless steel hot dog carts back in the late 1940’s. Hot Dog carts always had additional products-years ago fresh orange juice dispensed from a Kestenbaum pump, hot pretzels, knishes, chestnuts, shish-ka-bob etc. There are many reasons why there are less hot dogs sold today then years back. Among them are the fact that most vendors today use very thin hot dogs (I think 11 to the pound as opposed to 7 to the pound), also they use skinless hot dogs as opposed to natural skin casing. This of course is to maximize profit, but have little taste. If you want really good hot dogs from clean vendors-I know where at least some of them work-mostly out in Queens-but they are worth the trip Give us a call at 800-BUY-CART
    If you want to hear more about the hot dog cart business in NYC there will be an interview with me this Saturday 8/13/11morning on Cityscapes WFUV radio 90.7 with George Bodarky

  • Marius Satori

    Yeah, this article sucked. This is not news. This was manufactured news that holds no truth whatsoever. Hot dog cart vendors were always trying to sell new things to compete with other eateries and other hot dog carts. Now they have the trucks. Hot Dog carts are still everywhere as much as they ever were.
    Does this reported think we are stupid? This is NYC, not backwoods Alabama where an article like this would work.
    Hot Dog Man Scared of Losing Business to New Food Truck in Town..

    Sorry Katie. The traditional hot dog cart is NOT disappearing from the streets of NYC. Please try harder with your next article and actually be a journalist and not a storyteller.

    And to people who automatically equate someone of tan skin with terrorism:
    Please bang your head against the wall really hard so whatever is blocking your rational thoughts will free itself and let rational and intelligent thoughts continue on. It’s serious, so do it quick. You’ll be happier when the stupid goes away.

    • Marius Satori

      Okay, who let the Weathercaster write an article that wasn’t about the 5 day weather forecast?

  • Kenny

    Study released today says hot dogs (and all processed deli/lunch meats (because of nitrates/nitrites) cause cancer. For sure. Just like cigarettes. Keep your hot dog carts. And your racist idiots.

  • Undertheboardwalk



    I blame Bloomberg the Bostonian Idiot. LONG LIVE THE SABRETT!!!

  • iggy

    because some little tryant mayor made a deal with a firm that allows hal-al chicken stands but no hot dog stands. i always thought AMERICAN veterans got a crack at the corners first. you know, for SERVING THE COUNTRY but the terrorists have preference. i mean the arabians

    • Michael H.

      Oh shut it. Those “terrorist arabians” work their backsides off day after day in all weather conditions to bring home a buck and feed and clothe their kids. There are hundreds of hot dog stands. The article is sensationalist and doesn’t go into numbers at all. Go walk 3 blocks in Manhattan and I bet you lunch that you’ll find yourself a hot dog stand.

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