Do you like your dogs steamed or charred, courtesy David Hammond

When my daughter Josie and I stepped up to the counter at Murphy’s in Chicago, the dialogue went like this:

JOSIE: Char dog, please.

ME: Char dog?

JOSIE: I shouldn’t get a char dog?

ME: Get whatever you want, I was just surprised.

COUNTERMAN [butting in]: It depends on whether you like your hot dogs the way your father made hot dogs or the way your mother made hot dogs.

JOSIE: I don’t think my father ever made hot dogs for me?

COUNTERMAN [to me]: You never grilled?

ME [defensive]: Sure, I grilled. Meat, never hot dogs.

JOSIE [to me]: Why do you prefer steamed?

ME: I think you can taste the hot dog better when it’s steamed.

COUNTERMAN: You actually get more taste with a char dog. It gets all crusty on the outside.

ME [trying to change subject]: What do you sell more of, char dogs or steamed dogs?

COUNTERMAN: About 50/50.

We had the counterman cut our dogs in half, so we could do a side-by-side comparison. We both actually preferred the steamed dog, especially when the wieners are loaded with the abundance of condiments offered at Murphy’s, which is a magnificent hot dog house. However, Josie commented, and I agree, that if there were not so many condiments, the char dog might actually be the winner of this taste test.

Either way, I’ll never go back to Murphy’s, good as it is, as I don’t need the counterman suggesting I failed my kids by never grilling hot dogs for them. Heck, I don’t tell him how to steam — or char — his weiners.

Anyway, how do you prefer your dogs: steamed or charred?

Join the discussion on social media!

David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

One reply on “Hot Dogs: Steamed or Charred?”