Last night, David Letterman riffed on the Subway Footlong shortfall scandal by sending the camera down to the Hello Deli on 53rd Street, where a foot-long hot dog called the MegaDog has been offered for the last six months. Letterman makes the proprietor, Rupert Jee, take a tape measure to the thing and it turns out to be only eight inches long.
During the skit, the sign was altered to read “8 inch” instead of “Footlong,” which is the way it still reads.
It was a pretty funny bit, but what intrigued FiTR was the MegaDog itself, which, according to the sign which Jee had to change, came with a catalog of ingredients that included cheese, chili, mustard, relish, sauerkraut, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and – the best part – french fries, a sandwich additive rare in New York, but embraced by Pittsburgh. The MegaDog costs $4.95, but for an extra dollar, you could have bacon added. What the hell? We went for broke and got the whole shebang.
Was it any good? Well, it had ketchup instead of mustard, and the chili tasted vaguely Korean, as if someone had added just a little kimchee to some ground beef, but the thing was an admirable attempt at creating something way more than the sum of its parts.
Unfortunately, it proved impossible to hoist the thing and eat it, and you had to use a fork and knife, which defeats the purpose of a hot dog, doesn’t it? And because utensils were required, it really was impossible to get a bite that included all the ingredients. Still, when someone asks us for the city’s most extreme frank, this is the one we’re likely to recommend.
Though it wasn’t shown on Wednesday night’s episode, here’s what the MegaDog with Bacon from the Hello Deli looks like. How many ingredients can you identify?
213 West 53rd Street
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 31, 2013