The Hotdogger celebrates sausages, culture

Since 1984, The Hotdogger has been Davis’ go-to place for delicious, freshly made hot dogs. Decades later, the store still serves high-quality food while championing the cultural diversity that makes this community a great place to live.

Originally opened by Dan Dan the Skydiving Man, ownership of The Hotdogger changed in February 1994 to a man whose name screams “hot dog shop owner”, Ivan Franks. A UCD alumnus, Franks prides himself on using fresh, local ingredients to create these delicious delicacies.

“I love the culture and the community. I am a UCD graduate anthropologist, and hope to one day be called ‘Dr. Franks is studying ‘wienieology’,” Franks joked before moving on to the seriousness with which he takes his sources of ingredients. “I want to find the freshest ingredients and that’s what makes our hot dogs the best. The village bakery makes our fresh rolls daily, our hot dogs are made from Fairfield, and finally, the produce and everything is in Sacramento and the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

For Franks, The Hotdogger isn’t just his business, it’s his family’s business. He and his wife at the time worked there with their sons, Tad and Max, and instilled in them a strong work ethic. The same work ethic that Franks now instills in the workshop’s young employees and interns.

“I learned how hard working my sons are because they worked their buns. They complained, but it was part of their duty to help the family. Now we have kids that I love coaching, and I have my managers, Gil and my son Tad, who are doing really well with 16, 17 and 18 year olds,” Franks said. “It’s fun teaching them to work hard and get through life. Some need a little extra help and tutoring in this area, and we provide that and love it.

The Hotdogger is not an uninspired hot dog assembly line, however. They are prepared right in front of the customer with a variety of ingredients to choose from, including eight different mustards. For Franks, this process is an exchange of culture, with each hot dog symbolically as unique and diverse as the person who creates it.

“Having the university here is so much fun. We receive people from all over the world. Some come in the summer for a few weeks for teaching positions or internships and it’s even more fun with all the families and kids that come,” Franks explained why he loves having his headquarters in Davis. “I love figuring out what hot dog I’m going to eat and how I’m going to make it. I love a dog from Chicago, but at the end of the day I might go with someone else’s creation, and it feels like the first time I’ve had a hot again -dog.

The Hotdogger isn’t confined to its location at 129 E Street A-1 downtown. These delicious wieners can be found on carts at the Ruhstaller Brewery in Dixon, the Bluenote Brewery in Woodland, and the Davis Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in Central Park.

With delicious, quality food that would put Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” to shame, why not enjoy this age-old food that’s as – or maybe more – American than apple pie?

— Contact Aaron Geerts at [email protected]

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