One Man’s Love of Gas Station Hot Dogs

For editor Jay Bouchard, one bite of a roller dog evokes happy childhood memories.

May 29, 2018

DENVER – Self-described foodies and others who prefer farmers’ market staples and locally sourced meat don’t appreciate the allure of the humble, gas station hot dog, wrote Jay Bouchard, an editor for 5280.

His love affair with roller dogs since his father bought him one 20 years ago at a Mobile gas station. “I’m not sure if it was love at first bite, but whatever mystery meat I tasted that day has kept me coming back for two decades,” he wrote. “There’s something special (and sure, potentially dangerous) about a beautifully bronzed frank that’s been rolling and rolling and rolling under a 140-degree heat lamp for several hours.”

His affection for this American food staple has brought derision and concern from family and friends. “I have a mother and grandmother of my own, and both of them worry about the way I pursue preservative-filled, previously frozen foodstuffs like a scavenger. And I’ve heard it all, from friends and family and strangers at rest stops: That’s disgusting. You eat like a rodent. Dude, didn’t you ever read The Jungle? But the fact remains: I love gas station hot dogs,” he said.

Besides the “clearly subjective matter of taste,” he loves the gas station hot dog for its price. “A mere twenty dimes scrounged from the bottom of your cup holder gets you two piping hot specimens stuffed into warm blankets of squishy white bread (with relish and other toppings, if that’s your thing).”

He concluded that the gas station hot dog “has been an omnipresent beacon of hope and comfort as I’ve traversed this country, living in five different states over the past seven years. Each time I moved—from New Hampshire to Montana to Illinois to New Mexico to Colorado—I drove. A healthier road tripper might have packed nutritious snacks for the ride. But for me, a frugal, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants driver, I knew I could count on a hot dog waiting for me at each and every service stop.”