Hot dogs in the car, Peanut House style

by Brian Clarey

I’ve been driving around the Triad for the last week with a weed whacker in my car. There’s also a rake, a poker set, a drill with a case of bits, a rain jacket with granola bars stuffed in the pockets, most of a carton of cigarettes, a tangle of car chargers, a blanket of garbage and perhaps 23 pens, many of which I believe I can still coax some ink from.. During work hours I also keep my laptop, calendar and notebooks in there.

I don’t live in my car to the extent that some working journalists do, but I’m certainly good for a few hundred miles a week. It’s where I plan my day and make my phone calls as I cruise from one end of the Triad to the other. I am often forced to take my meals behind the wheel, a slothful paradox traveling at a mile a minute.

So I took it in stride when I realized that the Peanut House in Winston-Salem doesn’t have anywhere to sit and eat. They do, however, have a car wash.

If you’re going to the Peanut House, keep your eyes on the side of the road or you’ll miss the small green shack, its windows covered with writing, outer walls adorned with signs.

If you’re going to the Peanut House, you better be in the mood for hot dogs, because that’s pretty much all they have: regular dogs, footlongs, all-beef, turkey and red-hot sausage. You can get two of the little ones with a lemonade or iced tea and a side of fries for $5, with chili, slaw, mustard, ketchup and onions. They’ve got sauerkraut, too, if that’s your thing, and judging by the signs haphazardly taped to the surfaces of the tiny interior space, they’ll fix you a plate of nachos, too, if they’ve got the goods. The tea is sweet — but not too — and cold.

The fries deserve mention as well. The nice ladies at the Peanut House are running a Trak-Air hot-air fryer — no oil, no vent, no baskets. It’s basically a convection oven that uses jets of hot air to cook the fries quickly, one order at a time. the same technology that was behind the Ore Ida company’s move to invent the French-fry vending machine.

These fries are great: crinkle-cut and crispy, but not so much that they have the texture of roasted locusts. They come in a small, brown paper bag that I rest in the space between the front seats of my car. The dogs, individually wrapped in white paper and placed, side by side, at the bottom of another paper bag, come out one by one. They’ve got exactly the right amount of topping so that none drops onto my shirt or lap while I eat them in the car. It’s like they were made for this.

Naturally, they have fresh peanuts here, and also cashews and redskins, prepared in all manner of ways. On longstanding principle I get a bag of blanched peanuts, which are pretty good, certainly better than anything I could get pre-packaged from a gas station and perfect for eating in my car on the drive back home.


CHOW: The Peanut House; 3100 N. Patterson Ave.; Winston-Salem; 336.354.2016