Best Hot Dog St. Louis 2003 - Woofies Hotdogs
Historians trace the sausage's beginnings to ancient Mesopotamia -- modern Iraq -- where the ancients first learned to stuff animal intestines with meat. Three millennia would pass before the concept was refined: In the 1850s, a butchers' guild in Frankfurt-am-Main unveiled a smoked, spicy sausage in a thin casing, immediately throwing off the balance of power in Europe. This sausage had a slight curve, emulating a prominent dachshund that, at the time, served as Frankfurt's Lord High Mayor. Civilization took another giant leap when German immigrants smuggled hundreds of the newfangled red-hot dachshund sausages into the United States. Among the immigrants: a certain Anton Feuchtwanger, who sold his red hots from a downtown cart in St. Louis in the 1880s. These sausages were toasty, so Feuchtwanger lent his customers gloves. These customers were St. Louisans, so Feuchtwanger's gloves were filched. It fell upon Frau Feuchtwanger to save the day, recommending that Herr Feuchtwanger sell his red hots in a split bun. The practice of eating a red-hot dachshund sausage in a split bun then swept the nation, giving birth to a century of prosperity and giving people something to enjoy at baseball games. As "red-hot dachshund sausage-in-a-split-bun" was a mouthful, the term "hot dog" was popularized. Yet mankind wasn't finished with the mighty wiener. Once again, a St. Louisan would be front-and-center in the march of progress. In 1977, 50-year-old Charles Eisen decided he was tired of the pawnshop business and opened a hot dog stand just north of Page Avenue in chi-chi Overland. The new Woofies, which resembled Chicago's ubiquitous yellow-and-orange Vienna Pure Beef hot dog stands, instantly drew celebrity connoisseurs, including television personality John Auble and the Post-Dispatch's Bill McClellan. It wasn't the novelty that kept the celebs returning: Eisen's dogs could bark. The Woofies dogs range in price from basic Woofies at $2.59 to the Big Herm at $4.49. Standard toppings include chopped onions, mustard, hot peppers and neon-green relish. The menu also features Italian sausages, brats, hamburgers, tamales and "freedom" fries. Though Woofies has a drive-through, we recommend the counter seating inside. There, enjoy Eisen's large collection of autographed publicity shots of former and faded St. Louis media stars, including ex-Channel 4 "Nightside" reporter Herb Humphries, former KPLR anchor Don Clark, radio's J.C. Corcoran and some guy named Kevin Horrigan. They were all fans, but the biggest fan is gone. Eisen, who used to say he ate a Woofies every day, passed away in 1997.