I have posted about the culinary paradise known as Hillbilly Hot Dogs several times as it is the traditional stop I make on my way home from Mayberry Days.
I have shown a photo of a giant fiberglass hot dog on the hill beside the restaurant itself. If you look closely at the right side of the platform, you will note the instructions posted not to write on the hot dog. This is because Hillbilly Hot Dogs encourages graffiti pretty much anywhere else imaginable on their property. (And as an aside, the first time I visited there I wrote “Mayberry Lives!” on a photo frame.)
What I had not mentioned is that the hot dog is a relatively recent addition. I believe the first time I saw it was likely on the way back from Mayberry Days in September 2017. I assumed it was something the owners had commissioned.
However, my vigilant friend Dick Villard (known to many in the Mayberry community as “GooberFife”) recently learned the story behind the hot dog and alerted me to it.
The giant hot dog actually adorned a hot dog joint for years in Alliance, Ohio, more than 3 and 1/2 hours north of Hillbilly Hot Dog’s location in LeSage, West Virginia. The sculpture sat atop Waaadaa Hot Dog. I have not been able to verify exactly when it opened, but Dick used to eat there occasionally and said he thinks it was around 2001.
Dick said the restaurant owner was sued by the city over the hot dog on the claim it violated zoning restrictions. He won the suit but eventually went out of business in 2006. Dick even saw the hot dog being hauled away.
It turns out the hot dog was put into storage while the owner tried to find a buyer. Presumably, after a decade of storage, he dropped the price enough that he was finally successful. Hillbilly Hot Dogs bought it and in August 2016 it made the long trek to LeSage. And as I said, I think I saw it for the first time in 2017 but I did not take a picture of it, which is surprising to me if it had been new, so I can’t be sure. Still, it was definitely not already installed in 2016. I took a photo of other–er, structures in the same area and the hot dog was not there yet.
The date of an August 26, 2016 article said it had been moved “recently.” I am sure it had to be rehabbed a bit after that many years in storage. It had obviously been re-painted as the bun now says “Hillbilly Hot Dogs” on the side. Plus it had to be installed securely. So it would have been highly unlikely that it would have been there when I came through less than four weeks later.
I am glad Hillbilly Hot Dogs was able to return the roadside attraction to the public’s view.
One last comment on what I think is an interesting twist. Dick recalled that Waaadaa Hot Dog was opened by a man who had retired from operating a local car dealership. After he closed the restaurant in 2006, the Waaadaa building became a car dealership. And now? As of last fall, it is a restaurant again, though now it is a burger joint.