Texas Hot Weiners are famous, but where did they originate and when? The name is usually spelled “weiner” and not “wiener.” While the food has long been eaten in Texas, the name appears to come from the northeast.
East Texas is well known for its “hot links.” The Lamont family claims that its “Texas Hot Weiners” opened in Pittsburgh (PA) as early as 1918. A Texas Hot Weiners stand opened in Olean, New York in 1920.
Paterson (NJ) and Plainfield (NJ) have a popular traditions of Texas weiners, starting from 1924. Timothy Lloyd wrote an essay on “Paterson’s Hot Texas Wiener Tradition” for the Smithsonian Institution (available at the Library of Congress website).
Library of Congress - American Memory
Paterson’s Hot Texas Wiener Tradition
By Timothy Lloyd
The Hot Texas Wiener and Its Preparation
In its simple, classic form, the Hot Texas Wiener is an all-beef hot dog “blanched” or par-cooked in 350-degree vegetable oil in a fry basket for a few minutes, cooked by another hot vegetable-oil bath in a tilted steel pan until done, and then placed in a bun, topped (in strict order) with a spicy, ballpark-style mustard, chopped onions, and a chili sauce containing ground beef, tomatoes, more onion, and a “secret” blend of spices, including (I believe) cayenne, cinnamon, allspice, and cumin. Hot Texas Wieners are available with any combination of these “classic” toppings (e.g., without onions, with only chili, and the like) as well as pickle relish and sauerkraut. The chili sauce is also sold in refrigerated pint- and quart-size containers, to take home.
The shorthand jargon used in wiener restaurants to describe orders for the many possible variations on the Hot Texas Wiener is a distinctive part of this local tradition. If you were to enter one of the area’s many Hot Texas Wiener restaurants and ask for “one,” you would be served the food item I’ve described. If you were to ask for “a hot dog without onions,” you would hear your counter-person yell back to the preparation line, “one no onions,” and you would receive a wiener with mustard and chili sauce.
If you were to ask for “four hot dogs, two with everything, one with just mustard, and one with everything but no onions,” you would hear your counter-person yell back, “one mustard, one no onions on four.” “On (number)” at the end of a Hot Texas Wiener order indicates the total number of wieners ordered; in the example, subtracting the number of wieners ordered with special topping combinations (two, in this case) will tell those on the preparation line the number of wieners (two) to be served “with everything.” On a simpler order, such as four wieners without mustard, the counterperson may shout back to the preparation line, “Four no mustard four,” to emphasize the total number ordered. (...)
Library of Congress - American Memory
A Brief History of the Hot Texas Wiener
According to Chris Betts, the Hot Texas Wiener was invented around 1924 by “an old Greek gentleman” who owned a hot dog “stand” (a loose restaurant-business term for a small restaurant; this one apparently sat ten or fifteen customers at a counter) on Paterson Street in downtown Paterson. This gentleman was experimenting with various chili-type sauces to serve on his hot dogs, and apparently drew upon his own culinary heritage for the first Hot Texas Wiener chili-sauce recipe.
As Betts and Nick Doris mentioned when I questioned them about the sauce’s origins, it resembles Greek spaghetti sauce, which contains tomatoes, meat, and a similar combination of spices. As Betts’s account also suggests, the chili sauce is considered the crucial ingredient in this new food, its invention defining and separating the Hot Texas Wiener from the hot dogs the “old Greek gentleman” was serving before.
Two important aspects of this early history remain undocumented: the name of the “old Greek gentleman” and his business, and his reasons for naming his new food the ” Hot Texas Wiener .” Documentary research in newspapers, other local periodicals, and business directories of the period, as well as interviews with older workers, may well identify the Hot Texas Wiener’s inventor and his place of business, although smaller businesses in working-class areas did not often receive much coverage in mainstream publications.
The specific reasons for his choice of “Texas,” unfortunately, are more likely to remain unexplained. I suppose that, seeking to give a unique and, for Paterson, exotic name to his new and somewhat spicy food — itself characterized by a sauce whose name (“chili”) carries Western, Latino, and cowboy associations — he might have chosen the “Texas” designation to give his creation what today we’d call an “image.”
For several years the Paterson Street location was the major outlet for Hot Texas Wieners, but in 1936 a Paterson Street employee named William Pappas left and opened Libby’s Hot Grill on McBride Avenue and Wayne Street, across the street from the Great Falls on the Passaic. Libby’s —still in operation today in the same location — was extremely successful, in part because of the quality of its food and in part because of its location, near to its clientele of workers in Paterson’s textile mills and other plants, and on one of the main highways to and from New York City. (...)
Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette
Altoona family’s eatery has been grilling up hot dogs since 1918
Monday, July 04, 2005
By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
ALTOONA—Every few days, Robert Lamont is in the back kitchen of his small restaurant here on 12th Avenue, stirring two huge, heavy-gauge aluminum kettles. Into each, he dumps 40 pounds of lean ground beef that has been browned twice and as many as 11 different spices. Then, he lets it all simmer for six hours.
Lamont is the third generation in his family to run Texas Hot Wieners, opened in 1918 by his grandfather, Peter George. His uncle ran it before Lamont finally took it over in 1973. Though the location has changed a couple of times since then, the recipes and the popularity of the famous hot dogs have not.
The counter, where customers are served on paper plates, is lined with red and chrome stools, and horns from a Texas steer sit on the walls. An antique cash register is a conversation piece on one wall, and old signs for 8-Ball soda and Red Rock cola adorn the others.
The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 500 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners & Much More
by Jane and Michael Stern
New York: Broadway Books (Random House)
494 pages, paperback, $17.95
2002 new edition
1978 and 1980, Random House
Pg. 98 (Libby’s Lunch, Patterson. NJ): Texas weiners (usually spelled e-i rather than i-e) were invented in New Jersey prior to 1920 by John Patrelis, who worked at his father’s hot dog stand at the Manhattan Hotel in Patterson. According to hot do historian Robert C. Gamer of Wyckoff, Mr. Patrelis devised a deep-fried frankfurter in a too-short bun, topped with mustard, onions, and spicy meat sauce, traditionally accompanied by French fries and a mug of root beer. In 1920 the hot dog stand was renamed the Original Hot Texas Weiner because Mr. Patrelis believed the sauce to be like Texas chili. In fact, it is more Greek than Texan; but the Lone Star moniker stuck, and today Paterson is rich with Texas weiner shops.
26 March 1919, Altoona (PA) Mirror, pg. 20, col. 5 ad:
THOSE GREAT BIG TEXAS
We use the “Majestic Weiner,” the best in the world. Fresh every day.
Try the new saving sandwich.
Everything up to date.
GIVE US A TRIAL
1118 ELEVENTH STREET
22 April 1920, Lock Haven (PA) Express, pg. 2, col. 5 ad:
with a secret formula of Chili Sauce—something good to eat.
At 206 East Main Street
12 July 1920, Olean (NY) Evening Herald, pg. 6 ad:
Something new in Olean. Specializing in Hot Weiners.
Formerly Grand Central Restaurant.
Visit us—You’ll like out Hot Weiners.
From East to West
Stop here to get the best.
18 April 1921, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, p. 8 ad:
Do You Know That We Serve ‘Texas Weiners’ In This City?
They’re Delicious—the More You Eat, the More you Want
108 North Warren Street.
6 May 1921, Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times, pg. 1, col. 2 ad:
Our meals and vegetables will be prepared to your liking, also we serve the original and famous Texas Hot Weiners. They are different.
88 E. MARKET STREET
22 August 1922, Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times, pg. 1 ad:
Can Be Had Only At The
3 W. Northampton St.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
19 December 1922, Watertown (NY) Daily Times, pg. 11, col. 2:
HARRY LAVADIS SELLS HIS
INTEREST IN TEXAS LUNCH
To be Conducted by Theodore Pouloe
—Lavadis to Open New Establishment
The Texas Lunch at 236 Court street, the place where frankfurts are dressed up with chopped onion and dressing of hamburg and called “hot weiners” has changed hands.
The establishment was opened late last summer by Harry Lavadis in partnership with Theodore Pouloe. Almost from the start the place did a large business and the hot weiner became a popular lunch.
1 March 1923, New Oxford (PA) Item, pg. 5, col. 5:
Oh Boy! They Are The Real Thing
Something New in Hanover. We Have Made a Big Hit in Every Town
Really It’s the Best Tasting Sandwich in the City. Only the Purest Material is Our Motto.
See The Sanitary Texas Hot Weiners
at 5 York Street, Hanover.
17 June 1923, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, pt. 1, pg. 9, col. 2:
On all sides you will observe that the culture of the Athenians has been imparted to our main streets and the hot dog and Texas weiner stands blow an Ambrosial breath of old Spanish onions upon the town. The hot dog hangouts indicate clealy that, under the influence of the ancient Greeks, and Frankfurters almost as ancient, Trenton is rapidly approaching the scenic level of Cripple Creek, Shelby, Mont., and the Inter-State Fair midway.
2 September 1923, Hartford (CT) Courant, pg. 17 classified ad:
Texas Hot Wieners
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
29 March 1924, Auburn (NY) Citizen, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
HOT TEXAS WEINERS
19 Genesee Street
11 October 1924, Oil City (PA) Derrick, pg. 7, col. 5 ad:
HAD ONE OF THOSE GOOD
TEXAS HOT WIENERS YET?
—they’re great eating and sure lunch the spot when you’re hungry. A great lunch for in-between-meals.
THEY’RE HOT—RIGHT OFF THE IRON.
THE NEW SYSTEM.
TEXAS HOT WEINER SHOP
211 Sycamore St.
25 April 1926, Springfield (MA) Sunday Union and Republican, pg. 20A, col. 5:
The New System Texas Hot Wiener men are jealous of their trade name and are seeking an injunction to keep other “hot-dog” stands from displaying the name on their windows and advertising. The Texas hots have their trade label registered with the Connecticut secretary of state.
RICHMOND’S PLAINFIELD (NEW JERSEY) DIRECTORY 1927
New Brunswick, NJ: R. L. Polk & Co.
Pg. 527: Texas Hot Weinie Shoppe (Geo Christman) 100 Watchung av
Pg. 1000: Texas Hot Wiener (sic) Shop 100 Watchung av
Google News Archive
22 March 1927, Gettysburg (PA) Times, pg. 1, col. 3:
...and the Texas wiener lunch room, Chambersburg street, has moved to a room across the street.
30 June 1927, Warren (PA) Tribune, pg. 13:
Quick Lunch Restaurant
TEXAS HOT WIENERS A SPECIALTY
252 Penns. Ave W.
Penn State Collegian (October 16, 1928)
TEXAS HOT WEINERS
They Are Different.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
20 December 1928, Utica (NY) Observer-Dispatch, pg.?, col. 2 ad:
A New Place to Eat
Texas Hot Wieners.
209 BLEECKER ST.
Google News Archive
20 June 1930, Gettysburg (PA) Times, pg. 1, col. 8:
Both Falkler and Kargas are employed at the Texas hot weiner restaurant, corner of Chambersburg and Washington streets.
20 November 1931, Frederick (MD) News, pg. 11, col. 1 ad:
We also have the Famous Texas Hot Wiener for 5c
The Washington Restaurant
76 South Market Street
PATERSON (Haledon, Hawthorne, Prospect Park, Little Falls, Totowa Borough, West Paterson) DIRECTORY 1931
Newark, NJ: The Price & Lee Co.
Pg. 1334: Paterson Hot Weiner Restaurant, 370 Grand
POLK’S PLAINFIELD (UNION COUNTY, N. J.) CITY DIRECTORY 1935
Orange, NJ: R. L. Polk & Co.
Pg. 536: Texas Lunch Co (Geo C Christman) 100 Watchung av
LBJ Barbecue Cook Book
by Walter Jetton with Arthur Whitman
Pocket Books, NY
Pg. 25, col. 2:
8 all-beef wieners
2 large onions, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces barbecue sauce
Cover the wieners in water and heat them on the grill, being sure they are kept below boiling for 30 minutes or so. While they are heating, slice the onions into a skillet with the butter and cook just till the rings come loose. Remove from heat and add the barbecue sauce. Put the weiners on a bun or plate and top them with this sauce-and-onion mixture.