RE: Divulging the Dog...There Ought to be a Law
I, too, always want to know the brand of hot dog served at a hot dog restaurant or any place serving hot dogs. I have had many experiences trying to find out. Sometimes the person I speak with willingly gives the information. Sometimes they don't even know. That's when I'll ask for a manager or owner. Many times I'm told that they make their own hot dogs. 99% of the time, this is a lie. I've also been told that it's none of my business. Well, I'm eating it; I'd like to know. I've been told "It's a commercial brand." Well, which one? I've also been told that the reason for not divulging the brand is that if I knew where they got their dogs, I could get them for myself, and they would lose my business. Or that they don't want to tell me because I may be a potential competitor looking to open my own business.
This is a tough call. As someone who loves hot dogs, I very much like to know the identity of the dog, it's size, casing, etc. But I can see the owner's side of it too. I've had a hard time finding out where some places get their dogs. And when I've finally found out, I've been told "Ok, you know. But you won't be able to get them for yourself." More often then not, this is untrue. It may be hard, but if you try, you can usually get any dog that you want. Thumann's dogs for deep frying are hard to get, but if you know someone at a pizzeria that serves Thumann's coldcuts for their subs, you can usually persuade them to order the dogs from the Thumann's distributor, and then pay the pizzeria owner.
The Galloping Hill Inn uses a dog from Grote & Weigel that is different than the standard Grote & Weigel Griddle Frank. GHI had G&W make this frank for them based on a recipe from a local butcher shop that used to provide these dogs for them. GHI is the only place that serves this particular dog, but you can get it from Grote & Weigel's N.J. distributor if you are willing to buy 5 lbs.
There are ways to find out the identity of a brand if you really want to know. Ask former (or even current) employees. Look in the trash bin for discarded boxes. Sometimes, if you frequent a place enough, you might be there when they get their shipment.
I like finding out information when someone has been particularly nasty to me, and then going back and telling them that I found out anyway. And refusing to tell them how I found out. Another way is to call a hot dog maker like Marathon or Grote & Weigel and telling them that you are interested in purchasing a quantity of hot dogs. They will think that you represent a business and will be more open to discuss who they provide dogs to. This is how I found out that Papaya King, Gray's, and Katz's all use the same recipe Sabrett dog (although Katz's is slightly larger).
Someone once asked me to help find out who makes the dogs for the Brooklyn Diner. Although named Brooklyn, it is actually located in Manhattan, and is known for their giant 15 bite hot dog. I spoke to the owners with no sucess. The most I could get out of him was that the dog was made in N.Y. I called a few places (Marathon, Stahl Meyer, Golden D) and said that I was thinking about opening my own place and inquired about their dogs and who they had as customers. The guy at Golden D quickly rattled off some places that served his dog. Brooklyn Diner was one.
People think I'm nuts for doing this, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of you. Especially when someone tells you that you can't find out and/or challenges you to do so.