Today is National Chili Dog Day, and I’m thrilled to share an interview with John Champlin, Wake Forest alum and fellow hot dog enthusiast. You can see his photographic adventures on Instagram @tourdefrank and check out his write ups of his most recent trip, the Feast on the East (Coast) at his blog. Below, he answers some burning hot dog questions.
1. What are the origins of Tour de Frank?
The long story is posted here. More simply, a local company did a promotion for all of the Winston-Salem hot dog places called TourDeFrank. If you visited and took a picture at the hot dog place, you got swag. I didn’t have an instagram account so now I had one and the only picture was me with a hot dog. It all started there.
2. Were hot dogs a big part of your childhood? Do you have any favorite childhood memories of eating hot dogs?
I was! Just ketchup and mustard were my childhood toppings. I can remember that in a house that was always busy, hot dogs were a quick, easy, and cheap dinner option. I think back on those family hot dog dinners fondly.
3. You just completed the Feast on the East (Coast). Are you willing to pick a favorite dog from the trip?
My favorite one on this trip was in Flagler Beach, FL at Saltwater Croc’s Grill. It was their Sunrise dog: a bacon wrapped hot dog with cheddar, tomatoes, and a fried egg on top. Everything about it just hit the spot!
4. Do you have an idea of where next summer’s Tour de Frank will take you?
Having checked off the east coast, I figure I need to follow the sage advice to “Go West Young Man!”
5. Where is your ultimate, pipe dream place to eat a hot dog anywhere in the world?
I was watching Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix and he goes to this place called DOP in Copenhagen. I’d LOVE to go there!
6. Is there a particular great non-traditional dog you’ve eaten?
I don’t know if it’s completely non-traditional, but the Sonoran Dog that I had in Phoenix during the cross-country trip was pretty awesome. The one I had was sold by two women who set up a big tent with a TV and fans on the side of the road. I love it!
7. If you had to give up hot dogs and turn to another food stuff, is there something you think would be as fun?
I’ve thought about this a lot. I think donuts or BBQ would be a fun.
8. Recommend a great place to have a hot dog in your home town, and in the town where you live now.
My hometown is Richmond, VA. I’m gonna go a little farther than hometown and recommend the Swizzler Hot Dog truck in Washington, D.C. I love their creative hot dog creations and the folks who run it are fantastic. In Winston-Salem, my favorite is PB’s Take-out. The butter-toasted buns make it!