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Rhode Island's hot wiener: Don't call it a hot dog

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 10, 2014 at 9:49 am •  Published: March 10, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Don't call them hot dogs and don't ask for ketchup.

Those are the cardinal rules at Olneyville New York System, arguably the best-known Rhode Island spot for one of the state's signature dishes: hot wieners.

"Dish" is probably an overstatement. These are veal, pork and beef wieners slathered with mustard, covered in special meat sauce, topped with chopped onions and celery salt, and served in a steamed bun. Ordering one with all the fixings is called "all the way." Many say all the way is the only way.

"They're so greasy but good," said Paula Malone of Glocester, who came in one recent lunch hour with a colleague from the Providence VA Medical Center to pick up a big order. As in 33 hot wieners, seven coffee milks — coffee syrup-sweetened milk, another Rhode Island staple — and 10 orders of fries, for a Mardi Gras office party.

Hot wieners got some national recognition last month, when Olneyville New York System was named an "America's Classic" by the James Beard Foundation.

The $2.15 wieners are small so lots of customers order a few at a time. The grillers prepare them in a way that's known as "up the arm" — balancing a row of buns and wieners on their forearms, then adding each ingredient in quick, choreographed succession.

The Food Network's Guy Fieri raved about Olneyville's hot wieners in a segment of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." ''Come for the hot wieners and stay for the show," he said. "Can't beat it."

Last year, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras appeared on the cover of The Providence Phoenix's "The Best" issue behind the restaurant's counter, grinning with a hot wiener in hand.

Rhode Islanders love their weenies. As co-owner Greg Stevens says, the place has no demographic. It's just as likely you'll see a state politician at the counter as you will a police officer, a student or a foodie. A guy driving a Bentley once asked him for a New York System bumper sticker.

According to Stevens, who with his sister Stephanie took over the restaurant two years ago when their father died, the state's first hot wiener restaurant — Original New York System — opened in Providence in the late 1920s.

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