They make these RED hot dogs in Maine. Locally they are called red snappers and are what everyone from Kittery to Caswell uses in their summer backyard BBQ’s. We picked up a pack of Rice’s (one of two OG competing makers) before we left the state to try the red dye, natural casing snap for ourselves. There are two bits of folklore important in this maker story. One, sometime in the late 18th century, the red dye was added as a marketing gimmick to have their dogs standout amongst the 30 other competing butchers. Two, after World War II, Rice headed down to NYC where he heard a few German sausage makers, turned soldiers, turned POW’s were being held. He interviewed them and hired one to create his hot dog spice mixture. Kidder & Rice, the companies original name, was sold to a few larger industrial meat purveyors over the years until W.A. Bean and Sons, Rice’s original competitor in 1898, bought the Rice name back from Tyson Foods. Today W.A. Bean and Sons pump out 500,000 pounds a year of Rice’s original recipe. With all that history we were intrigued what a naturally cased, steamed Red #40 food dye, pork and beef dog would taste like. The snap lived up to the legend. The taste was on par with the Nathan’s of the world but the marketing trick was what hit the home run for me. The contrast of the red dog, yellow mustard and green relish just makes it stand out and create conversation. Just like when you repeat this story to your pals when you try one. What’s still confusing is W.A. Bean and Sons also makes a red snapper. How they both “stood out” with the same marketing trick is unclear as is who was first. Regardless W.A. Bean and Sons now make both recipes so I suppose that origins moment is moot.
More Food Stuff
We’ve written about ‘Nduja, the spicy, spreadable pork salame from Calabria, before. It’s a pig shoulder and belly concoction mixed with various other ingredients depending on the village you’re in. Among them besides spices could be tripe or roasted peppers. Tony gave me the low down and said theirs, aside from being a Chicago version, was spiced for the American market NOT the hot headed southern Italian man. The ‘Nduja Black Label Iberico de Bellot is the Cadillac of spreads. Rich, creamy and just the right spice made me think this could be a winner for our current recipe testing back at my day job offices. Tony slipped me a ‘Nduja bomb and waved me off as if to say, “Go ahead take some a play. Call Chicago when you’re ready.” For you, you’re going to have to order some from his website.
Achaar is Indian pickles. Besides the puntastic name of the company, Chitra Agrawal and Ben Garthus make a delicious version of this Indian staple. No joke my Indian mother-in-law raved the entire time she cleaned out the jar. We’ve been smearing it on everything from sandwiches to fish. Word is a new flavor is in the works. You can pick up a jar in Brooklyn, obviously, bt there distribution is expanding quickly. Non-Brooklynites rejoice at one of these locations.
Ashley started Farmbox Direct because she thinks that the freshness of the farm should be available to everyone. Here in NYC we have an incredible framers market network but even then it’s sometimes tough to stop in. When I can, I usually spend the day with a brussel sprout tree or some lacinto kale hanging out of my bag. Farmbox Direct brings the freshness of the farm (or green market) to your door. It’s sort of like a CSA and Hello Fresh smashed together. The box comes with what is fresh, local and at it’s peak, given the unpredictability of mother nature. This is a good thing for adjusting our eating habits back to the seasonal, locavore ways of the past. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother would spend a weekend canning tomatoes because they didn’t grow in the winter. Not the case today. That’s because those winter tomatoes are greenhouse, pesticide, growth hormone, genetically altered seed, specimens that probably can grow on Mars (and they taste like it too). Ashley’s roots are on a farm which makes her perfect to start a service like this. She understand the enormous impact it can have on farmers and those of us subscribed to their delicious, natural bounty.
Speaking of that Maine trip, we also discovered Pemberton’s Puttanesca, another Maine business with a great origin story. Ever heard of Death by Chocolate. Yep. That’s right. Pemberton’s. That first product quickly went from local favorite to legendary status. How did they get to a jar of sauce? Simple really, they are about small batch, traditional classics, handcrafted with care. That allows them to explore a lot of different products from sweet to savory. As you know, we’re usually a discerning crowd when it comes to jarred red sauce but this puttanesca delighted our tongues and makes for a quick fix when we’re two tired (read busy) to start from scratch.