Man Friend is a West Virginia native, so this January when we headed over to meet the parents and explore his hometown he wanted to give me the authentic experience. Apparently in West Virginia that means having a hotdog with sauce and slaw.
I first learned about hot dog sauce pretty early in our relationship. It came up in response to a question about local hometown foods. Like any normal non-West Virginian, I asked, “What’s hot dog sauce?”
Basically, it’s chili without the beans, which may kind of be sacrilege to say, but it’s definitely the best way to explain it. A mystery to most other people, it seems so routine to Man Friend’s family certain members have been known to forget it’s called a chili dog other places.
We hit up the Root Beer Shack in Parkersburg, West Virginia so I could be initiated. There were countless options available on the menu and I was pretty curious about a lot of them, but we decided to just start with the classic. We went right after a run so I was pretty famished, which may be why I thought this combo was so delicious. But I have a suspicion they’re pretty great all the time.
What really knocked this dog over the top was a surprising element: the bun. The buns had been toasted to perfection. When I remarked on this in surprise, Man Friend just looked at me like I was from a different planet. Then he finally shrugged and said, “That’s normal. I guess we just take hot dogs really seriously here.”
Did I mention the eponymous Root Beer? Frozen root beer, no less. Not just frozen mugs, but the root beer itself is frozen, and it’s the perfect addition to whatever you choose.
There are still a multitude other varieties of hot dog available at the Root Beer Shack, as well as an interesting dessert menu that seemed to be composed of “anything you want battered and fried,” so you better believe I will be back. And if you head through West Virginia any time soon, pick yourself up a “dog with sauce and slaw.” You’ll have everyone thinking you’re a native, or at least a very well-informed visitor.