by Roy Hodge
In the 50s, our version of “fast” food came not from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s or Arby’s, but from Heid’s or Bill’s Inn.
Bill’s Inn was my family’s favorite. My father would go to the little white building in Syracuse’s Southside/Valley section near our home often, bringing home plates full of fish sandwiches or hot dogs, wrapped in white paper. The smell left by the fish sandwiches as they entered the house with my father was welcome, but we didn’t much care for the leftover fish fragrance in the car during any after dinner trips.
Other times the family would drive over to Bill’s. We would sit at the counters in the small restaurant on the round stools with the red seats, or go outside or sit in the car to eat.
Heid’s was also a favorite place. We would all pile into the Chevy for a supper time trip to Liverpool. Or, we often went there for our Sunday afternoon lunch or supper.
It was then and there that I was introduced to the coney, which decades later, is still a favorite, along with other culinary delights (as far as I am concerned).
The choices over the years have included doubles – two hot dogs or two coneys in one roll, or a mixed double – one hot dog and one coney in one roll. That choice, topped with Heid’s great, spicy mustard – definitely needed to be an authentic Heid’s dog or coney – is what gets my mouth watering on an anticipated trip to Heid’s.
When I was growing up hot dogs and coneys were the only choice at Heid’s. Who needed anything more?
From Wikipedia: The “coney” or white hot is a variation on the hot dog found in N.Y. State. It is composed of some combination of uncured and unsmoked pork, beef and veal. The lack of smoking or curing allows the meat to retain a naturally white color. White hots usually contain mustard and other spices. A coney should not be confused with a “Coney Island hot dog.” A Coney Island hot dog is referred to as a “natural casing beef hot dog, topped with all meat chili and diced or chopped white onion and yellow mustard.
Somewhere in this mix is a Texas Hot, which I was introduced to at a small restaurant near my school when I was a teenager. A Texas Hot is a well-done hotdog in a warm roll covered with a homemade ground beef and tomato sauce – not chili – chopped onions and mustard. In its definition of a Texas Hot, Wikipedia notes that one of the early providers was “Rudy’s” on Lake Ontario.
Drive-in restaurants were also popular places – like Harvey’s or Lundy’s – where “car-hops” took your order and delivered it on trays that fastened to your car’s windows. Pfeiffer’s on Onondaga Hill is another drive-in I remember, but I don’t think they brought our food to the car.
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