Thursday, August 19, 2010

Johnny's Hot Dogs

My family provided some of the original customers for Johnny's on Route 46 in Buttzville, NJ. You can tell that we have been stopping there for at least half-a-century because we refer to it as just "Johnny's".

During the 1940s and 1950s, when a generation of family members were moving from the Pennsylvania coal mines to aboveground jobs in New Jersey, there were constant trips back-and-forth with stops half-way at Johnny's for a meal. It was part of a visit home.

I forgot how limited Johnny's menu was until we stopped there this past week and I went to the counter to order. Geez, when I asked for sauerkraut on one of the hot dogs and was told "no sauerkraut" I felt like a newbie. I also had a flashback to Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" episode; I didn't know how to order!

The beverage choices are unique: birch beer or buttermilk. The birch beer reminds me of root beer for some reason, but nothing will entice me to drink buttermilk. My grandmother always had the buttermilk and I just found out that my father-in-law also ordered the buttermilk. Maybe it was a tradition of another generation, an early twentieth-century treat.

This time lunch for two ran $6.10 - hot dogs, a shared birch beer, and split order of fries.

Johnny's is actually Hot Dog Johnny's and has modernized to the point of having its own website.

I remember the kids going down to the Pequest River behind Johnny's, probably to stretch our legs, burn off some energy, and let the adults finish eating in peace.

This visit I noticed that the river had gotten a lot smaller and there appeared to be a fence behind Johnny's discouraging visits to the water.


Allen Goldschmidt said...

I understand the appeal of HDJ's and have stopped there many times myself, but there are better choices for hot dogs or roadside stands (e.g., Rutt's Hut, Texas Wieners, or Stewart's). HDJ's is more of a novelty in the middle of nowhere rather than a savory eatery.

Hughes ap Williams said...

Yeah, the food isn't remarkable, but the memories are outstandimg.