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Red Snapper Hot Dogs

Red Snapper Hot Dogs
5 votes, 3.80 avg. rating (76% score)

Whether it’s from the ball game snack bar, roadside stand, or the grill in your own backyard, when the the weather warms up and it’s time to start eating outside again, few things feel as summery as a good hot dog. Like pizza, there are as many regional hot dog styles as there are ways for a Hollywood actor to mess up a Boston accent. Cross a state line, or in some cases even a town line, and you’ll find yourself in new hot dog territory, and New England is no different. Over the summer we’ll be exploring some of our regional ways with hot dogs, so grab a cold drink and get the grill ready!

One way to know for sure that you’ve crossed into Maine is when the hot dog display at the grocery store starts carrying packages of dogs that are a shocking, bright red. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Red Snapper hot dogs of Maine, a favorite mainstay at family barbecues and campsites all across Vacationland.

new england hot dogs

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
New England hot dogs like these Maine Red Snappers are easily identifiable in split top buns.

These natural casing beef and pork franks earned the name “Red Snapper” because of their obvious color (just red dye) and the SNAP sound the natural casing makes when you bite into it. More of a “home BBQ” hot dog than a roadside dog, Red Snappers are jarring to look at, but plenty tasty to eat.

And of course, like all good New England hot dogs, they’re served in the traditional “top-loading” hot dog (or frankfurter) rolls, also popular for lobster rolls. Unlike the side-split (or “side-loading”) rolls common throughout the rest of the country, top-split rolls not only stand up better on a plate after the hot dog and toppings have been piled on, but its flat sides are ideal for buttering and toasting, either on a grill or in a frying pan. Of course, some folks will say they like theirs steamed rather than toasted, and that’s okay, too.

As a city apartment dweller, grilling is a pleasure I’ve yet to experience, so it’s stove-top toasted for now.

new england hot dog buns toasted

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
For many, all rolls must be buttered and toasted to be dog-ready.

In Maine, Bangor-based W.A. Bean & Sons is the foremost Red Snapper brand. They’ve been making hot dogs since 1918 (“150 Years, 5 Generations, and 4 Million Hot Dogs Last Year” their Web site says), but once you venture further south you may only be able to find Kayem “Reds,” a Red Snapper-style dog made in Chelsea, MA. We hear there might be red hot dogs in a few other pockets of the southern USA, but around here, red dogs are as Maine as lobster and blueberries.

When the hot dogs are hot and ready, put them in the warm rolls and load on the toppings. Here, one hot dog is waiting for a simple squiggle of ketchup while the second gets dressed with traditional relish and a slug of Maine-made Raye’s “Down East Schooner” Mustard. A third (the melted cheese underneath hidden by the hot dog) has a few spoonfuls of sauteed mushrooms and onions. When it comes to hot dog toppings, the combinations (and opinions about the best combinations) are endless, and we embrace them all.

red snapper hot dogs mustard

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Dressed down of loaded up, when it comes to hot dogs the topping combinations are endless.

Lined up and ready, a plate of Red Snapper hot dogs is a Maine summer supper at its finest (that is, if you’re not in the mood for lobsters). Just add chips, potato salad, french fries, or anything else that’s a little greasy with an ice cold root beer, Moxie, or grape soda.

new england red hot dogs

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Add a handful of chips and a cold drink and you’ve got the perfect summer supper.

Do you love a good Red Snapper? Let us know!

Aimee Seavey


Aimee Seavey


Assistant Editor Aimee Seavey is a staff writer for Yankee Magazine and assists in the development and promotion of content for through blogging and social media outlets.
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6 Responses to Red Snapper Hot Dogs

  1. richard parker June 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    love red dogs and moxie

  2. Phyllis Forbes Lovely June 4, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    Nothing better than a good red hot dog in a split top bun toasted, Humpty Dumpty BBQ chips and Moxie.

  3. Will Burpee June 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    I have never had a Red Snapper, possibly because I’m from New Hampshire (though for now, alas, I live in Illinois), but they sure look good. As do the New England-style buns, something I wish I could get here. I’d put my hot dogs in those if I could find them. But I do take issue with ketchup as a hot dog condiment. Ketchup is good on some things, but on hot dogs, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just wrong!

  4. Daria July 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    They used to be made by Jordan’s in downtown Portland. I remember the theme song: “It’s delicious, delightful, have another bite-ful, hot dog, hot dog, it’s Jordan’s!”

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