Hot dog! I relish high-school football season

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Football season is upon us. I don’t cover football games anymore. I used to love covering football games for two reasons — gridiron action and the food available at the games.

High-school football games meant paying for what I ate. What I ate tended to be hot dogs — or to be more precise, hot dogs smothered with chili. Some of the best hot dogs, even without chili, I’ve ever tasted came from concession stands at high-school football games.

A high school with a quarterback who passed a lot would get my attention. A high school with a concession stand that sold outstanding hot dogs (chili dogs preferred) would get my undivided attention.

Back in my high-school days, the concession stand at the football field at my high school — Paul M. Dorman High School in Spartanburg, S.C. — sold some of the best hot dogs I’ve ever come across. The chili on the hot dogs made those hot dogs unforgettable. I don’t know if that chili was homemade or store-bought, but it was wonderful.

In those days, the football team — the Cavaliers — was not exciting to watch. Its typical offense was up the middle, up the middle, up the middle and punt. From time to time, the “punt” part of that equation would become “field goal.” The field-goal kicker, during any given season in those days, was about the team’s only offensive threat.

For me, eating those chili dogs provided more excitement and satisfying results.

Over the years, I came across other high-school concession stands that served up decent hot dogs, always with great chili, at football games. The top three, in no particular order, were West Craven High School just outside Vanceboro, James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg, Va., and Southern Durham High School just outside, well, Durham. With a little luck, football fans attending games at those schools continue to be treated to great hot dogs.

It’s hard to beat the thrilling combination of a long touchdown pass, a bite of a chili dog and a sip of Dr Pepper during a September game — unless it’s the combination of a kickoff return for a touchdown, two bites of a chili dog and a sip of hot chocolate during a late November game.

Sometimes I would opt for hot dogs without chili, just mustard, ketchup and onions. As for those onions, I preferred those onions to be finely minced — to the point there was plenty of onion juice in which the minced onion would marinate. Chopped or diced onion did not quite provide the texture or flavor I sought. As for the onion, the sweeter, the better.

Not to slight any local high schools, there was one high school that offered up great hot dogs, but, alas, it no longer exists. Back in the day when Larry Knox coached girls’ basketball at Chocowinity High School and Otis Harrell owned the area under the basket when the Chocowinity boys played, I could buy great hot dogs at the concession stand in the hallway leading to the CHS gymnasium.

I haven’t been to a high-school football game in at least five years. That means I haven’t eaten concession-stand hot dogs in at least five years.

Although I am doing a better job of eating the right foods, I don’t believe eating two hot dogs — with chili, of course — would be detrimental to my health.

I can’t wait for the high-school football season to begin.

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. The best handoff he’s ever seen occurred at a West Craven-D.H. Conley football game when a woman working the concession stand at West Craven handed him three hot dogs, a Dr Pepper and bag of popcorn without fumbling.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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