As the Hungry Appalachian, I consider it a personal duty to keep my eyes on local restaurants and food vendors serving exemplary cuisine. Personally though I’ve never considered the difference between all the different hot dog brands we as Huntingtonians get to enjoy.

For years, I always thought that a hotdog is a hotdog is a hotdog; just give me sauce and slaw (or chili and slaw if that’s your thing) and we’re good to go.

It was only recently that we were all fighting each other over our favorite hot dog places that I realized there must be a difference.

So when the Huntington Visitor’s Center established the Huntington Hot Dog Trail, I considered it a challenge to distinguish which hotdogs are worth trying, and which hotdogs are overhyped.

Before we get into this though, I feel it necessary to say that as a hot dog lover, none of these experiences were truly negative. I enjoyed every hot dog I tried. We all have our controversial hot dog opinions as Appalachians. These are mine:

  1. Frostop — this is a childhood favorite of mine, and never disappoints, including this time around. Whether the ingredients are quality is up in the air, all I know is that the bun is soft, the flavors are balanced well, and the overall taste is quality enough for me to eat three in one sitting. Not too greasy and not too messy either. 10/10.
  2. Stewart’s — the hotdogs here are average, but satisfying nonetheless. My biggest problem is that they came wrapped in paper, napkins, which stuck to the sauce, taking pieces of my bun, along with it. Quite messy. 6/10
  3. Hillbilly Hot Dogs — the reputation behind hillbilly hot dogs is that the atmosphere makes up 75% of the experience. Frankly though (get it?), I personally felt somewhat uncomfortable dining in the middle of so many grime covered tchotchkes, so I took my food to go. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of deep fried hotdogs, which are potentially flavorless and far too greasy. The main taste I got was mustard, along with two full minutes of chewing the exact same bite. 4/10
  4. The Dog Haus — in terms of quality, the dog house in Barboursville is a fierce competitor for best hot dog experience in the tri-state. There are many different options for the hot dog protein, such as bratwurst, Italian sausage, and Korean sausage, which is what I got. The bun was extra thick, but fluffy, and the edges were toasty. Definitely the biggest bite on this list. Part of the magic behind a quality West Virginia dog however is simplicity, which I felt had been ignored by the Dog Haus. Still though, 10/10.
  5. Sam’s — Sam’s hotdogs are a great example of simplicity reigning supreme, without abandoning the quality of their product. Serving both regular and spicy sauce, you know I had to try both. A Sam’s hot dog with regular sauce comes across both classic and satisfying, similar to Frostop, except with a firmer bun. The spicy sauce changes a Sam’s Hot Dog’s from classic to innovative, introducing a flavor to the mix not produced by other local, hot dog restaurants. 10/10
  6. Shaffer’s Drive In — What can I say? It’s a satisfying dog, nice and flavorful; texturally there’s a lot to enjoy, a meaty sauce with crunchy slaw. I do wish this place was closer to Huntington though. To be part of the Huntington Hot Dog Trail, it is quite a ways out from the Jewel City. If you happen to be passing through Milton, give Shaffer’s a go. 8/10
  7. Midway Drive In — My most recent favorite hot dog place, I’m no stranger to Midway. They use quality ingredients to elevate their product above an average hotdog to provide a satisfying taste, without being too greasy. Overall Midway is known for good quality dogs, now the official hot dog vendor for Marshall athletics. Good stuff. 10/10
  8. Hazlett’s Triple H Drive In — I’ve driven past this place numerous times as a former resident of Wayne county, traveling from Lavalette out to Huntington. Finally through the hot dog trail I had an excuse to stop and try them. The main thing that wowed me was the customer service, the attendant on duty was quite helpful and polite. Having said that, the hotdog bun was a little too firm for my liking, and nothing quite stood out flavor wise. Not a bad hot dog, just somewhat unremarkable. 6/10
  9. Farley’s Famous Hot Dogs — I’ve heard tell of Farley’s hotdogs for several years, many of my peers claiming it to be the superior hotdog establishment. It was only upon my first visit in the last two weeks that I have come to realize, Farleys is indeed the most worthwhile stop on this trail. Very seldom do I visit a food establishment and have a perfect dining experience, this is one of those rare times. Quality ingredients, balanced flavors, soft bun, excellent customer service, checkmarks straight down the list. I took one bite and fell in love. Also, dare I say, Farley’s also makes the best slaw. 20/10

After I completed all the stops, the Huntington visitor center verified my information and asked me to stop by for my prizes: a T-shirt reading “Huntington hot dog trail” and a pin with a hotdog on the front reading “number one wiener”.

What is turning out to be an efficient way of supporting local businesses, also provides a fun summertime activity for Huntingtonians. There’s even a prize at the end.

The biggest prize in my book though, is getting to traverse our great state in support of our fellow Appalachians, one hotdog at a time.

To find out more about these dogs, AND create your own Hot Dog Trail passport, visit

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