Friday, July 15, 2011

Coney Confusion

Heid’s of Liverpool
305 Oswego St.
Liverpool, NY

When you are a connoisseur of roadside junk food like me, you see the word “Coney” on a lot of menu boards.

The mere sight of the word makes my mouth water.

This, despite the fact that word is nearly meaningless – at least to a rambling man like me. It means something different in every region of the country.

In New York City, where hot dogs were supposedly invented on Coney Island a century ago, Coneys are personified by Nathan’s Hot Dogs. In Cincinnati, a Coney is a tiny three bite dog buried under a mound of sweet clove-flavored chili and shredded cheese. In Detroit and Northern Indiana, a Coney is code for chili dog.

Of course none of this is any problem for the natives of these places. When they tell the guy in the funny hat behind the counter they want a “Coney”, they know exactly what they are getting.

Me, on the other hand? I had no idea what I was getting when I ordered “one frank and one Coney” at the counter of 94-year-old Heid’s just a mile or two from the Syracuse Airport.

Of course, randomly ordering tubes of mystery meat is all part of the fun of being a Suit in Strange Places.

Even when you don’t know exactly what you just ordered, when you do it after standing in a long line at a century old institution, you know it is going to be good.

Whatever “it” is.

Turns out, a Coney in upstate New York is a white-colored beef/pork/veal dog resembling a Wisconsin bratwurst. But with a bit of a spicy kick.

Who knew?

Everyone but me.

The place was packed, with a line out the door.

Patience is definitely not one of Suit757’s virtues.

I hate standing in line. Especially when I have 30 minutes to eat and get to the airport to fly to my next obscure corner of America.

I stand in enough lines courtesy of the crotch-groping liberty-robbers at the TSA.

I almost turned heal and headed back to the rental car in search of a McDonald’s drive-thru.

I’m glad I didn’t.

Fortunately, the line moves pretty quickly. Like I said, everyone but me knows exactly what they want on the surprisingly extensive Heid’s menu board.

One other thing everyone wants – to sit outside.

The outdoor picnic tables under the big tent were packed with what seemed like half the town of Liverpool. I guess that is understandable considering the types of winters folks in this corner of the country have to endure six months out of the year.

The crusty brown dripping piles of snow had barely melted in the Heid’s parking lot and folks here were itching for fresh air. Never mind the fact that the 60 degree temperatures, 20 mph winds and occasional spitting rain were a bit brisk for my rebel blood.

Spring fever in Liverpool!

But hey, I guess I’d feel the same way if I spent half the year buried under 42 feet of snow smack dab in the middle of America’s lake effect snow belt.

After a bit of research, I figured out what I had ordered. The frank is the red one. The Coney is the white one.

Both were generous sized and delicious. The frank had a crisp char and a mild taste. The Coney was even better with a touch of spice.

I washed them down with a local Adirondack microbrew served in a plastic cup. The perfect quick pre-groping late-afternoon lunch.

My only regret was not trying more of the extensive menu like French fries, onion rings and chili, which would have gone perfectly spread over the top of that zesty white Coney.

I mean, just think of the strategic advantage I have. I now know what the heck I’m ordered when I ask for a Heid’s “Coney”.

Oh, well. Next time.

When you are Suit757, there will almost always be a next time.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.

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