The One True Hot Dog Stand

[Scene: The county fair food court. Two friends Onymous and Pluribus meet for lunch.]

Onymous: I’m hungry. I need a hot dog. Nate’s Dawgs smells delicious, but they’re a little pricey. Joe’s Rolled Meats are cheap, but they taste like cigars. Trader Moe’s dogs are additive free, so I guess they’re healthier than the others. But the girl at the Delirama counter is a total babe. How can I possibly select the optimal hot dog stand?

Pluribus: Wait! I know just what you need! Follow me!

Onymous: You sound waaay too excited about this, but okay, let’s go.

[Onymous & Pluribus walk to the edge of the court, where they arrive at a small, inconspicuous hot dog stand. A large man behind the counter grins a sincere smile at the two of them.]

Pluribus: Here it is! Big Bob’s Dogs of Love! Now go ahead and buy your lunch.

Onymous: Umm…Pluribus, something seems not quite right here. I mean, I can tell you’re pretty excited about Big Bob here, but I’m just not seeing it. The aroma isn’t especially compelling and the prices are a little on the high side. I’m sure that Bob is a nice guy and all, but what I’m looking for is an exceptional hot dog experience.

Pluribus: Onymous, these hot dogs are exceptional, and here is the reason why — Big Bob’s Dogs of Love is the one true hot dog stand!

Onymous: I’m not sure what you mean.

Pluribus: You can’t understand until you try one.

[Onymous purchases a Dog of Love and takes a bite.]

Onymous: mrff…hrgmh…<gulp> Mmm…

Pluribus: Well..?

Onymous: Umm…it’s a hot dog. It’s okay, I guess. I still don’t see what you’re so excited about. And there’s nothing on it. Here, let me get some ketchup…

Pluribus: Wait! Don’t touch that ketchup! You’ll destroy the experience.

Onymous: What experience? Like I said, it’s not especially great.

Pluribus: Just keep eating. Contemplate on each bite, and when you’ve finished you’ll see what I mean.

[Onymous eats the rest of the hot dog.]

Pluribus: How do you feel?

Onymous: Well, I’m not hungry anymore.

Pluribus: See, I told you that that you would understand after you’d finished!

Onymous: But I still don’t understand. I’d be full no matter which dog I ate, and I didn’t find anything remarkably good about this particular hot dog. The taste, the price, the quality — they’re all pretty standard.

Pluribus: The truth of Big Bob’s hot dogs isn’t found in their taste. They may not be good, but they’re right. Their truth is in their legacy. These hot dogs are descended from the Charles Feltman.

Onymous: You mean the guy who invented hot dogs, back on Coney Island?

Pluribus: Yes. Big Bob’s is the lineage holder of Feltman’s legacy. Before Charles died, he appointed his employee Dave as his successor. The chain continued from Dave to his son Doug, and then to Doug’s son Danny. Danny fell ill soon after he took over, so he looked for someone who could carry the torch of legitimacy. He found Bob Watson, owner of Big Bob’s Dogs of Love. Danny saw that Bob was a kindred spirit to the true soul of the hot dog, and so he declared Big Bob’s Dogs of Love to be the official successor to the tradition begun by Charles Feltman way back on Coney Island.

Onymous: And so the hot dog that I’ve eaten here…

Pluribus: …is the hot dog authorized by the inheritors of Charles Feltman’s legacy! Now, if you’ll recall, Charles had another employee, Jack. Jack was distraught when Charles chose Dave as the legitimate successor, so he went on to compete with Dave in the hot dog business. But Jack had no integrity in his process. He adulterated his hot dogs with all sorts of extraneous innovations — relishes, chilis, cheeses…and ketchup! The masses loved it, but the soul of the hot dog was lost in the process. All the hot dog stands you saw back at the food court, decked out with their lights and costumes and condiments, are the illegitimate bastard spawn of Jack’s work.

Onymous: But those condiments that you’re disparaging are really quite delicious. I don’t eat a hot dog because it’s true. I eat a hot dog because it’s good. That Big Bob’s hot dog was alright for a hot dog, but even the one true hot dog would improve with some ketchup.

Pluribus: The process of creating the true hot dog is cautiously maintained. Big Bob is sincerely devoted to Charles’ tradition.

Onymous: But even the legitimate dogs have changed. I see here that Big Bob refrigerates his dogs until they’re ready to be cooked, and that he cooks them on an electric grill. Old Charles Feltman wouldn’t have had a refrigerator or electric grill back then.

Pluribus: Technology provides us with opportunities to improve the process while maintaining the core values. Legitimacy isn’t about doing things exactly the same way that Charles did. It’s about doing the same work that Charles was doing. Big Bob’s only incorporates innovations that don’t dilute the soul of the work. The hot dog itself is still true.

Onymous: I’d rather have a false, good hot dog than a true, mediocre one. Besides, I still don’t see why there can’t be a true, good hot dog.

Pluribus: And I’d rather be right than wrong.

Onymous: I guess I just don’t see the value in the “truth” of the hot dog

Pluribus: Onymous, don’t you remember your confusion back in the food court? You had so many choices, and no clear way to decide. You had no objective standard to determine which decision was right. Look back at all those people there. They wander from hot dog stand to hot dog stand. Once you’ve discovered the truth, the confusion is gone. The standard is clear. Your lunch hour becomes stress free, because you don’t have to keep re-asking the same question every day.

Onymous: Pluribus, you exhaust me. I need to sit down and rest.

[Onymous sits in a nearby chair.]

Pluribus: Well then, it’s a good thing you chose to sit in that particular chair.

Onymous: Why?

Pluribus: Because that’s the True and Living Chair.

Onymous: Eeee-yaahh!

  • Are these sellers

21 comments for “The One True Hot Dog Stand

  1. So is Big Bob’s the Reorganized Hot Dog Stand, handed down from father to son? If so, give me the truth revealed by Brigham Chili Young…

  2. The best hot dog I ever had was in Bulgaria, from a man who had lived a few years in Chicago – just long enough to get the idea of a hot dog stand, then infuse it with his own Bulgarian flavors.

    Interestingly, though, he had several versions that could qualify as having varying levels of truth (or “authenticity,” I guess). My favorite had sauerkraut and long, skinny, hot peppers.

  3. That was right about the time that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church went through something of a schism because the current patriarch had been appointed by the Communist Party, but someone decided to install a second, more democratic patriarch.

    I forgot to mention that the same hot dog stand also sold the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, as well.

    Where do pizzas fall along the truth continuum, anyway? Or are they just cast out because they have nothing to do with hot dogs, and even actively compete against them? What if the pizza has hot dog slices on it? Does pepperoni count as a hot dog, since they’re both sausages?

  4. queuno, I hadn’t even thought of taking the interpretation in that direction. My intention in writing it was that the original Coney Island dogs were the primitive church as established during Jesus’ ministry, and that Big Bob’s is the restored church today.

    harpchil, in high school I discovered that microwaving toast covered with spaghetti sauce, cheese, and hot dog slices makes a pretty good approximation of pizza. So, to answer your question, pizza and hot dogs are each slices of the greater truth (which also includes cold cuts and nachos).

  5. The reason people in the Church care about “true” is because “truth” leads to eternal happiness. For example, one must get ordinances through the true Church. And “the truth will set you free” by learning and doing correct principles.

    Your hot dog disciple exalts truth for its own sake, which in the given context makes it meaningless since nobody cares about a hot dog being “true”. To be a meaningful analogy perhaps he should relate “truth” to some outcome a person might reasonably wish to maximize — such as eternal joy or, for this example, perhaps health. Then he would not look like an idiot as he does here blathering about true hot dogs.

  6. Any particular reason to think that salvation is fungible like hot dogs and chairs?

    Myself, I do not think that God is just a personal taste.

  7. That’s the idea, Frank — essentially that there’s no value in “true” unless the “true” correlates to “useful”. But beyond that, my point is that (in my opinion) the church could stand some ketchup and not lose its truth, i.e. rather than being satisfied with saying, “the church is true, and that’s enough,” we might instead consider that what expectations one might have of what a true church could or should offer.

    Adam, let me come back to that when I have a few more minutes to write up a good reply.

  8. “essentially that there’s no value in “true” unless the “true” correlates to “useful”. ”

    And the reason people in the Church care about “true” is because truth leads to eternal happiness. But in your example the guy advocating truth doesn’t tie it to anything. Hence it does not connect well with how people in the Church talk about truth, where they do tie it to happiness.

  9. “we might instead consider that what expectations one might have of what a true church could or should offer.”

    Eternal life, if you follow the plan. Everything else, good or bad, pretty much pales in comparison.

  10. Yes. Yes. I think all of the points this post tackles are important. So often, people are so caught up in justifying their “rightness,” or the “rightness” of some position, that they forget that “goodness” matters as much, if not more. As I understand Christ, he was as at least as much concerned that people were doing good, as that they were following him.

    I know I’m off the analogy, though. This analogy seems to have a lot to do with taste – the bells and whistles (which I would like a lot more of in church) – and how we talk about the church with others (which is often from only our side).

    Frank: I think your points are valid, but I think this post has to do more with inclusion/exclusion – we so often look at what is unique in us that we forget to look at what other people have – often dismissing great things as “condiments,” i.e needless. We can tout what we have, sure, but to say that someone else who is being good won’t have joy or salvation or eternal life (which seems to be what you are saying), doesn’t seem accurate to me.

  11. I’ll let all-y’all debate the applicability of hot dogs to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a more important question: Who has the best dogs here in “Zion” (“Zion,” in this case, being the Salt Lake Valley)? (And hurry with the reply … I’m hungry! ;D)

  12. truth is one of the biggest and most controversial themes of 20th century philosophy. I think your hot dog dialogue centers a lot on deflationary and pragmatic senses of truth – truth in terms of an emphatic recommendation and truth in terms of verification or payoff. At any rate, here’s a link if you’re interested in a good summary of what’s gone on in the 20th century discussions:

    It’s also interesting to think about the different senses in which we think about truth, which is one of the things I think you’re getting at. True hot dog stand or the like sounds absurd (which is obviously why you’re playing on it). What sort of “true” institution is not in this sense absurd? And what about our other senses of – how do they relate? (e.g., true gold, true friendship, a moment of truth, true deception, true beans, Budweiser true, and Christ’s statement “I am the truth.”)

  13. Frank said “The reason people in the Church care about “true” is because “truth” leads to eternal happiness. For example, one must get ordinances through the true Church. And “the truth will set you free” by learning and doing correct principles.” in #5.

    I understand the reasoning well, but it reminds me of the Pharisees who allowed temple worship to overtake their God worship. They got caught up in being God’s chosen people that they forgot what being God’s chosen is all about (kinda like the Zoramites); and that is in fact exactly what Christ was chastising them for in John 8 (the source of that quote). They claimed Abrahamic parentage and He stated that they were of their father the devil, and in captivity. Not the nicest thing to say to a group of pious religious types.

    The manifestation I see of such an idea elsewhere is phrased “Do you believe in the God of the Bible?” by my Evangelical friends. Again, a good idea and notion of how to seek God, but it also allows for scripture to supplant God (see John5 for Christ’s reaction to that).

    The true matter, I feel, is not saying “I found the only true and living hot dog, which is the only way to true hot dog satisfaction.” but rather “I know the hot dog maker, and I appreciate Him for His hot dogs.” Focus on God, not on what He gives us.

    note: I am not saying temple worship is bad, I’m only saying it has the potential to become idolatrous if we allow it.

  14. Well, all this has made me hungry, and since it is almost lunchtime, I am going to have a HEBREW national hot dog, with mustard on whole grain. Sounds true to me. :-)

  15. Okay, so apparently more time doesn’t make itself manifest for me. But, since I’d rather respond poorly than not at all, here we go —

    Adam, #6 – Salvation certainly isn’t fungible. But my question is, can unremarkable doctrines and practices claim saving power by virtue of their heritage?

    Frank, #8 – But “truth” by itself doesn’t lead to eternal happiness — only the truths that pertain to eternal happiness do that. So leaning on the “truth” value of the church is only useful insofar as those truths are useful, which brings me back to asking: what can we expect from a true church?

    brian larsen, #12 – Are you my friend Brian from BYU back in 1997? Great to see you here! I hope you guys are doing well :) Your comments are right in line with my own thoughts — I feel that you’ve caught and expressed what I’m trying to convey in this post.

    James, #14 – I suppose it’s time for me to learn more about philosophical underpinnings of truth then, since the whole substance and purpose of truth is central to my point here.

    Andrew, #15 – Yes.

  16. I like the analogy and Brians comments to this. The hotdog we are eating now is somewhat like the hotdog of old, but we must remember that the hotdog we have now combines all the hot dogs that have ever been true, it is the fullness of the hotdog that we have now. The fullness means that if we eat it correctly and completely, it tastes unbelievably good, it makes it so that we hunger no more, and it makes it so that we want to share this hot dog with everyone because you can’t believe that people are not enjoying this or are ruining it with other flavors that don’t belong on hot dogs.

  17. Hmm, I don’t see how the concept of authority or agency applies in your story. Sounds more like a discussion of martial arts lineages.

    On the contrary, if I’m dealing with agents for someone, I don’t care which one is the prettiest or who gives the best fringe benefits, I care very much who actually represents the principal.

  18. Stephen, I love that you pulled martial arts out of this. That’s actually where I got the term “lineage holder”. I have a friend who’s very much into bagua, and it was a conversation with him about the history of bagua that got me thinking about how similar our own claims to priesthood authority are.

  19. 13
    With your proposed Zion = Salt Lake Valley, you’ve added another layer to my awareness. Here are the stages of my mind expansion to date:
    1. 1969: Frosh at BYU, “Utah” is a four-letter word,
    2. ~2000: Crusty grump in SoCal, “Salt Lake City, Utah” is four four-letter words in a row, and
    3. 2010: Bloggernacle interloper, “Salt Lake City, Utah – Zion” is five four-letter words in a row.
    What wonders await?

Comments are closed.