Food Finds: Traverse City Hot Dog as Harbinger

The Tom & Jerry Special

The Tom & Jerry Special

John Russell

The leeks haven’t quite pushed through the forest floor, and we’ll have to wait until after the first May rain for the earthy morels to spring up, but hot dog peddler Tom McManus sure makes Traverse City’s Front Street feel like springtime. I spotted him and a small but earnest crowd around his shiny stainless steel hot dog cart on the sidewalk for the first time last week.

McManus sells hundreds his hot dog delicacy, the Tom & Jerry Special, starting in the first fair weather of spring. I can’t describe them more passionately than the dog-peddler does himself: "I start with a hot bun, steamed. I use a Koegels Vienna (snappy with lots of flavor) then shredded cheddar and sweet sauerkraut that’s warm, so as soon as you put it on, the cheese starts to melt. I ask the customer about relish—dill or sweet—then put that on, then chopped Vidalia onions, a ribbon of mustard, thin; a ribbon of ketchup, thin; and a ribbon of Tom & Jerry’s Hot and Spicy Dog House Sauce." Oh, that sauce! Front Street across from Horizon Books, Traverse City—right on the sidewalk. perfectsauce.com

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