Larry Domek loves putting things on hot dogs. Chili and kraut, cheese and pickles, and on his favorite version, the classic Chicago Dog: onion, “sport peppers,” and electric green relish.
Just don’t ask for ketchup.
The Chicago native, who opened a hot dog dive in northeast Minneapolis in 2000, despises that particular condiment, which he said is meant for French fries, not his all-beef, natural-cased dog.
“In Chicago, they’d kick you out for ketchup,” said Domek, who owns Uncle Franky’s at 728 NE. Broadway.
Still, he was willing to allow ketchup on his MPLS Dog.
The distinctly Minnesotan creation consists of one of Domek’s dogs on a poppy seed bun, topped with a steaming-hot ladle of meaty-beany-creamy tater-tot hot dish, followed by a hefty drizzle of cheese sauce. Oh, and ketchup.
Needless to say, the MPLS Dog wasn’t Domek’s idea.
In a strange symbiosis of food marketing and office lunch, the idea for the dog came from a group of diners who had stopped in one afternoon. They happened to work at Ingredient, a Minneapolis food marketing firm that does photography, video, social media and recipe development for clients like Lunds & Byerlys, General Mills and Heggie’s Pizza. Uncle Franky’s isn’t on their client roster, but over a group lunch there, an idea was born.
“There’s the Coney Dog, the Chicago Dog, and someone asked, ‘Where is the Minneapolis Dog?’ ” said Brian Brown, Ingredient partner and creative director.
In an exercise to come up with a food that could be as iconic to Minneapolis as the Chicago Dog is to the Windy City, Brown and his team brainstormed about what would top such a dog.
“There’s nothing more Minnesotan than hot dish,” Brown said.
The Ingredient team went back to their northeast Minneapolis office and worked in the test kitchen, going through five or six versions of hot dish before they found one that wasn’t too runny. It had to hold up as a topping.
When they presented the final product to Domek, ketchup and all, he approved.
“It does go against Chicago tradition,” Domek admitted. “There are some purists who would raise eyebrows.”
But he deferred to the folks at Ingredient, who have developed such Instagram-worthy dishes as gin and tonic popsicles, and perfected a wild rice soup recipe that went gangbusters on Facebook.
Besides, said Domek, “We are in Minnesota. Ketchup is a food group.”