Let us agree that the hype can be insufferable, the franchising questionable, the lines—lemmings, you are!—perplexingly interminable. We would love to sneer, but we have just bitten into a spicy Polish and, well, the snap of that intestinal casing, the audible eruption of a red hot, has reminded us why the Hollywood institution is in its 70th year. It comes with onion, chili, and mustard, but we hardly noticed.

Best Hot Dog, August 2004
Long the most famous hot dog stand in Los Angeles, Pink’s doesn’t need us to hawk its franks. We’d rather be provocative, or at least counterintuitive, which is to say that the Hollywood institution had to work twice as hard to live up to its legend. It had to rise above the sausage temples of Ventura Boulevard, from Rubin’s Red Hot to the Stand to the excellent if unfortunately named Wienery. It had to wow us with a dog that was juicy and fiery and garlicky and chewy, even after we had consumed enough nitrates to dope a small elephant. In our defense, Pink’s signature chili-cheese dog (the Original Tommy’s Burger of tube steak) didn’t do it. But one taste of the spicy Polish and we knew—or better yet, we could hear. The casing was so taut, so perfectly elastic and resistant, that every bite was an explosion, the snap audible from all the way across the table.