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Half-smoke

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Half-smoke

A half-smoke is a "local sausage delicacy"[1] found in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding region. Similar to a hot dog, but usually larger, spicier, and with more coarsely-ground meat, the sausage is often half-pork and half-beef, smoked, and served with herbs, onion, and chili sauce.

Ingredients and preparation

Though the etymology of "half-smoke" possibly comes from the original half-pork, half-beef composition, the ingredients and smoked method of preparation,Template:Or vary by brand and some brands even make more than one kind. A half-smoke can be half pork, half beef, all beef, or anything in between. It can be steamed instead of smoked.[2] Another possible explanation is that the texture and flavor is half-way between smoked sausage and a regular hot dog. Yet another explanation is that it refers to cooks cutting the sausage in half when grilling. The products sold under the name generally have a genuine or artificial smoke flavoring and coarser texture than a regular hot dog and are the key features that distinguish.[3]

History

The "original" half-smoke is considered to be the sausage distributed by D.C.'s Briggs and Co. meatpackers, originating in around 1950, though Raymond Briggs started selling his half-smokes in about 1930. Eventually, Briggs was sold to another meat distributor, where, by some accounts, the quality of the meat declined.[3]

Venues

Numerous hot dog carts in Washington, D.C. sell steamed half-smokes, with those on Constitution Avenue catering to tourists and those on Pennsylvania Avenue serving federal employees and many other hot dog carts throughout the downtown area. Half-smokes are the "official dog" of the Washington Nationals.[4] The most prominent location is often cited as Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington's U Street neighborhood, which gained widespread exposure when visited by President Barack Obama in 2009.[1]

Another popular location for half-smokes is the Weenie Beenie in South Arlington located near the W&OD trail. Founded in 1950, it pre-dates Ben's Chili Bowl and is the inspiration behind the Foo Fighters song "Weenie Beenie".

Notes and references

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