On the Menu

The Secret's in the Sauce
by Craig Constantine

Yocco's Hot Dog King has spread its secret sauce on more hot dogs than I can imagine. Since 1922, the family-owned doggie shops have burgeoned to four locations. (When you visit their original itty-bitty location for a dog, you'll see why four stores is a comparative burgeoning.) Its world famous doggie packs have literally travelled the world over. Each shop proudly displays a map of the world, carpeted with little orange-tipped straight pins, each marking a doggie pack destination.

Yocco's A Yocco's Doggie Pack includes all the fixings for a pile of Yocco's dogs. Each doggie pack comes frozen; they can be shipped where you please, or picked up. Roughly the size of a shoe box, they definately should be shipped frozen, then cooked/heated/steamed as best as possible (directions are in the box), followed by sinful indulgence.

I'm lucky enough to live near them, so I can walk in when I get the urge. For some reason, it doesn't feel like Yocco's if I use the drive thru. I think it has to do with the aroma. Every time the steam bin is opened to draw out another bun, the room refills with that wonderful fresh bread smell, coupled with the aroma of Secret Sauce. I usually find myself waiting in line for my four dogs and a pint of Longacres chocolate milk, staring at that map. There's one tiny pin piercing Miami for which I'm responsible, but it's the pins in Peru and Yugoslavia that start me wondering. I envision other pins still waiting to be stuck.

Java Spots & Coffee Stains Yocco's has a pretty straight-forward menu. Choose from hot dogs, steak sandwiches, pierogies/fries, and then pick extra toppings and drinks. (Tourist Tip #1: A steak sandwhich in Eastern Pennsylvania is chipped beef with tomato sauce in a hoagie-like roll, known as a Philadelphia style steak sandwich.) Don't take forever ordering; figure it out in advance and bark out what you want when you're up. They're not selling cuisine, just great dogs. By default, they'll assume you want a Yocco's dog (go figure), so you can say, "Four and a large chocolate milk," without too much confusion. If you want pierogies too, then you are my kind of lunch partner. (Tourist Tip #2: The original location on Liberty St. doesn't have a frier... no pierogies or fries there!) If you lose your nerve when you see a greasy grill, the way the steamed buns often get paper-flat around the dog, or the diced, raw onions, then you'll want to wait in the car.

At Yoccos, they slap the little weiners together so fast it's hard to catch what goes in (if you don't see the sign, that is). It's actually simple: one Medford (a Philadelphia meat packing company) beef frank, one fresh, steamed bun (their source is apparently some local bakery), one blop of spicy brown mustard (another mystery, but similar to Goulden's mustard), one baby-spoon full of onions, and one dash of Secret Sauce (enough to coat the bun, but no so much that it runs out).

The secret really is in the sauce. But I do not want to know what's in the sauce. It's a chile-like sauce, spicy but not hot, dark brown, with lots of finely ground, high grade meat. The Bedford franks actually taste like meat, not like filler. Yocco's is not vegetarian fare, nor is it low in cholesterol, fat, or calories. Still, I wander in when I feel like defying modern dogma for a feast of delicious hot dogs.

The original Yocco's Hot Dog King is at 625 Liberty street in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Go south on 7th street, left onto Gordon to 6th, left onto 6th up one half block to Liberty, and left again to 625. If you're like me and want pierogies, the Yocco's with the friers are on Hamilton Blvd. two miles east of Dorney Park, and 1/2 mile south of Interstate-78 on Rte 100. You can call Yocco's at (610) 433-1950 if you'd like to be responsible for a pin on the map.

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