Tom Lohr has eaten a hot dog at all 30 MLB ballparks and is the author of "Gone to the Dogs: In Search of the Best Ballpark Hot Dog."
Oklahomans: Purveyors of Processed Meat
No food is more closely associated with American culture than the hot dog. It is the one food that defines our cuisine and is a familiar summertime staple. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans will consume 7 billion franks (that's 818 every second), proving that among the populous, the frank 'n bun combo is top dog.
Oklahoma is not only a robust contributor to hot dog consumption statistics, it is also an important supplier. Most franks are all beef, and the Sooner State ranks fifth in beef production, providing 5.4% of the nation's supply. Chances are good that when ordering a hot dog, it may have originated in the state.
When first introduced, hot dogs consisted of a frank laid into a bun. It wasn't long before vendors began to dress their dogs with an assortment of condiments. For decades, the acceptable additions was a short list: mustard, relish, chile, cheese and sauerkraut. Since the term “foodie” entered the lexicon, dishes that remained unaltered for generations became subjected to food fusion experiments that ranged from slight enhancements to ridiculous.
Hot dogs are no exception. While traditional dogs ruled for decades, varieties appeared that included, among other things, peanut butter and Fruit Loops. Now, deciding on what hot dog to order is as complicated as picking out a new car.
Oklahomans enjoy a variety when it comes to downing a dog. The state offers a wide spectrum that will satisfy any palate. The thin, chili-topped frank with a mountain of cheese known as a coney is a clear favorite. For the adventurous, there are exotic varieties strewn across the state.
Nowhere on Route 66 Cafe
Tackle the colossal “Farm Boy” chili cheese dog at the Nowhere on Route 66 Cafe in Afton. Co-owner Sandy Reynolds named the humongous entree after Mr. Reynolds, who she describes as a farmer, and farmer's need big meals.
Location: 300 S. 1st St., Afton
Chet's Dairy Freeze
Dotted across the map are small hot dog shacks that cater to locals' craving, or serve as a lonely outpost of sustenance on the prairie. Chet's Dairy Freeze in Muskogee is a prime example. Residents in Green Country highly regard Chet's dogs topped with its signature dark chili, made from his secret recipe since 1947.
Location: 3510 W. Okmulgee St., Muskogee
Ski-Boy Drive Inn
Fort Cobb is home to the lonely Ski-Boy Drive Inn at the intersection of OK-9 and SH-146. Keeping it simple by offering a regular or a footlong traditional dog has kept this solitary stalwart serving Caddo County for six decades.
Location: 30196 OK-146, Fort Cobb
University of Oklahoma students enjoy an array of hot dogs to chose from. Norman's Diamond Dawgs serves up dogs that most OU students need a fork to finish off.
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Location: 753 Asp Ave., Norman
Fans of Pistol Pete in Stillwater can catch a late-night monstrosity aptly named the “All Jacked Up” dog. The heavily laded bun contains some of everything offered at the Curty Shack (opens at 10 pm).
Location: 402 S. Washington St., Stillwater
Wayne's Drive Inn
An icon in southwest Oklahoma, this old school drive-in with car hops serves up some old-time tastiness. Ask anyone in Lawton and they can point you in the right direction.
Location: 7 SW Sheridan Rd., Lawton
Lenox Drive In
Known for dishing out deliciousness for decades, this small outpost in Enid is a must-stop if cruising the northern part of the state.
Location: 1110 N. Grand St., Enid
Dixie Dog Drive In
This is Ponca City's favorite hot dog joint. Try the actual Dixie Dog and enjoy the fine taste of midwestern comfort food.
Location: 1421 E. South Ave., Ponca City
The college students in Tahlequah can't keep away from the diverse dog menu at Vidalia's. Good dogs, good service nestled in one of the midwest's most underrated towns.
Location: 319 N. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah
Looking for a basic dog deep in the middle of Oklahoma? You don't find yourself in Salina by accident, you have to purposely set a course for it. By the time you get there, you'll be hungry. This is your spot to fill your tummy.
Location: 303 W. Ferry St., Salina
The best and most diverse selection of hot dogs in the entire state of Oklahoma can be found in its second-largest city: Tulsa. From the basic to the outrageous, Gnarly Dawg has it all.
Location: 6011 S. Mingo Rd., Tulsa
Atomic Hot Dogs
If you find yourself on the north side of Oklahoma City, give Atomic Hot Dogs a chance. This tiny shop in a parking lot serves up deliciously prepared dogs that will make your mouth water.
Location: 1414 W. Britton Rd., Oklahoma City
Time to Get Your Dog On
Few people choose Oklahoma as their vacation destination. But being smack in the middle of America, many folks pass through it or visit the Sooner State on business or are stationed there while in the military. Not only is Oklahoma steeped in national history, it offers an array of America's favorite food: the hot dog. If you find yourself sweeping down the plain, don't forget to stop by one of the state's hot dog houses and enjoy one of the finer things in life, Midwestern style.
Note: If you know hot dogs and Oklahoma, you are probably wondering why Mutt's Amazing Hot Dogs and Burgers is not on the list. Sadly Mutt's, home of the best-known and best-tasting hot dogs in the entire state, was damaged during a storm and is not slated to reopen.