Friday, June 9, 2023

Cream Cheese and Hot Dogs: A Seattle Specialty

Cultures can be confusing sometimes. One town over from your own, the people may very well be inventing a new way to eat a common food that you never would have thought of. This is certainly true in Seattle, where the hot dog has been turned into a near-casserole of a food. Well known as Seattle Dogs, these behemoths of meat and bun are a claim to fame in the Pacific Northwest, where anything from sriracha to jalapenos are used as condiments. But the condiment that may surprise you the most that is so signature to these hot dogs is cream cheese.

You may be thinking, what an unlikely flavor pair. Well, I’m left thinking the same thing. Who would have thought that cream cheese of all things would be used on top of a hot dog? Cream cheese is for bagels! For toast and other breakfast breads! But for hot dogs? I just don’t know if I could get behind that.

But this fact leaves me to wonder, if I went to Seattle and was given the opportunity to try one of these hot dogs, would I be considered close-minded for not joining in? It seems that the cream cheese hot dog combination is not at all foreign or considered strange when you go to Seattle. In fact, people seem to come from afar just for a chance to eat a hot, fresh, local Seattle Dog somewhere in the area.


Apparently, this specialty of Seattle dates back to the 1980s in Pioneer Square, when it was coined by a man named Hadley Longe. His food business lied in the world of bagels, but people in the city weren’t prone to buying bagels late at night. They wanted something to fill their stomachs and soak up whatever amount of alcohol they had consumed in the fun of the night. And thus, the cream cheese hot dog was born. What would normally be a condiment used on bagels, cream cheese found its way onto a hot dog. Often topped with sautéed onions, the cream cheese dog is a favorite among late night-ers and those who find themselves drunk after a fun night at the bars in the city. When you add the component of the onions, it sounds like an even weirder combination. But then I got to thinking, is it really? Using cream as an offset for certain savory flavors isn’t really that uncommon.

In fact, I can think of lots of occasions wherein I’ve been eating a savory taco (definitely containing some form of onions) and it was topped with sour cream or some sort of cream-based sauce. So, the idea of the Seattle Dog having onions and cream cheese actually makes some sense in my mind.

So, the final question remains. Would you try a cream cheese Seattle Dog? And moreover, would you try one topped with even more toppings? I’m not sure that I could stomach this combination, but I might be willing to try for the sake of not looking like a total tourist.

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Hannah Wyatt
Hannah Wyatt
Hannah Wyatt is a freelance writer from Morgantown, WV. She writes poetry, academic papers, as well as online articles and web content.


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