I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Decatur, Alabama.
Greetings from Decatur, Alabama
N 34° 32.342’ W 086° 54.687’ Elev. 637 ft.
If you sail the Interstates for a living, eating fast food is an inevitability. Eventually you will be tired enough or hungry enough or it will be the only thing available or whatever. It’s going to happen. While I avoid fast food as much as possible, sometimes there are actually good things to be had, occasionally at a reasonable price.
Here’s yet another example:
Ah, Dave Thomas, the adopted kid who grew up to build a hamburger empire named after his daughter, and then go on to do so much for so many through his generous philanthropy. Along the way he also inadvertently created a damn good chili dog without purveying a single sausage during his long, industrious career. Neat trick.
I always liked Dave. But how did Dave create a great on-the-road chili dog without handling a single wiener? He made Wendy’s Chili, then located his restaurants in a bunch of truck stops across America.
I’m not waving a limp frank here, Furter. I’ve mentioned the quality of Wendy’s chili in the comment section of this blog previously. But now I’m going full frontal — with pictures and everything!
Though mildly spiced, Wendy’s chili is a nice mix of ground beef, white and kidney beans, bell pepper and tomato, in a really flavorful, slightly sweet sauce. Even better, many of the Wendy’s has chopped red onion which they will generously add on request. If you want, you can add cheese for an additional cost (30-50¢?). It’s also served with Wendy’s Chili Sauce, which I don’t like, and saltine crackers.
But you won’t need crackers, Polly, because you’re doing chili dogs. So here’s the drill:
1) Find a truck stop with a Wendy’s and buy a small chili with onion ($1.49). Have them drain the chili so it’s not so “soupy”; they’ll do this with alacrity if you ask. Then have them heap on the onions.
2) Go into the truck stop section of the building and find the weenie roller. Being careful not to let the glistening, rolling wieners hypnotize you, get a couple of the quarter-pound hot dogs. (For years the dogs were “2 for $2.22” virtually everywhere but now they’ve upped the price at most places to Two for $3.)
3) Put your dogs in one of those paper nacho trays and nuke — all truck stops have Nuke-Ro-Waves™ — your weenies for a minute to make sure they’re fully cooked. Always — Always! — avoid the ones that look like they’ve been there for awhile … because they have. Pull a couple of buns out of the invariably cold “bun warmer” located beneath the weenie roller and nuke them for about 10 seconds before sliding your wieners in.
4) Fix your dogs; I do mustard and ketchup. And don’t forget to double the little paper trays. You’ll thank me later for this prescient tip.
5) Take your booty back to your table/yacht/car and dump Wendy’s chili on your wieners and enjoy some of the best chili dogs a hungry traveler can reliably find. Seriously.
For those of you who don’t want a weenie ‘neath your chili Wendy’s also has baked potatoes ($1.29). I don’t know how many people have put chili on a baked potato but it’s actually a great combination, one that rates right up there with chili on spaghetti.
And here’s another Tip for the Traveler: While at Wendy’s stock up on disposable cutlery. They have the best, most durable, seemingly indestructible plastic knives, forks and spoons on the planet. They will prove to be invaluable. And Wendy’s gives ‘em away!
Dave. Always giving back, bless him.
And so we roll.
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.