Two very different hot dogs have their day

by Brian Clarey

Over the years, it’s become something of a joke around the YES! Weekly offices this time of year, when the Best of the Triad results come rolling in, just what goes through people’s minds when they cast their votes.

Sometimes it seems as if the voters are just naming places that fit the categories without actually considering the products in question.

Yes, the International House of Pancakes serves breakfast, but is it the best breakfast in the Triad? There was a time when our readers thought so (not this year — the honor goes to Tex & Shirley’s).

Nowhere was this more evident than the Best Hot Dog category, which for the first six years of the competition was won hands down by Yum Yum Better Ice Cream in Greensboro.

Yum Yum’s definitely serves hot dogs — they have for generations on and around Spring Garden Street. But the dogs, which come either all the way with chili, slaw, onions and mustard or with any variation on those toppings, are as simple as they get, boiled and then placed in simple white buns. The dogs themselves are on the low end of the spectrum dyed an unnatural shade of red and woe unto the customer who dares look at the dog after the first bite, when the gray center is exposed.

Last year Skippy’s Hot Dogs in Winston-Salem took the title for the first time, and won it again this year. The dogs, made strictly of beef and grilled until the skin gets snappy, come on pretzel rolls made in house — owner Mike Rothman came into the business as a pretzel man — and in a variety of styles. I like the Chicago Dog, with mustard, tomato, peppers, relish and celery salt, one of my all-time favorites. They’ve got a New York-style dog with sauerkraut, mustard and Swiss, called the Reuben, and even a Carolina-style version with mustard, chili, slaw and onions. The hot dogs at Skippy’s are among the best I’ve ever had, due in large part to the pretzel roll but also because of the quality of all the ingredients. On a recent visit, I had my Chicago Dog with hand-cut fries and a birch beer, a magnificent lunch for about $5. They have sandwiches as well, though I think you’d be crazy to go with anything but a hot dog at Skippy’s.

For the sake of balance, I made my way over to Yum Yum’s for a bite. The place has not changed in decades: a smattering of oldschool, orange booths, a crew of bustling workers in hats behind the counter, newspaper clippings about the place from generations past taped to the glass.

I got two, all the way, and without looking too closely at what I was eating I took them both down in about a minute and a half. They were delicious in a different way than the fare at Skippy’s, soft and flavorful. They reminded me of the times when my kids were young and could be sent into tizzies by mere mention of Yum Yum’s, though they were always more interested in the homemade ice cream than the hot dogs.

After I finished my lunch, and even though it was a bit chilly outside, I got a scoop of butter pecan in a cone — generous, even though I ordered the small size. It was one of the best ice-cream cones I’ve had in recent memory, and it cost about a dollar more than the hot dog.


Skippy’s Hot Dogs; 624 W. 4th St., Winston-Salem; 336.722.3442; Yum Yum Better Ice Cream; 1219 Spring Garden St,. Greensboro; 336.272.8284