Call them gaggers, or wienies, but whatever you do just don't call it a hot dog. Hot wieners have been a Rhode Island tradition for over 80 years. And here at the Olneyville New York System in Providence, that's exactly what has made them popular for so long. Originating in the 1900's, this specific location was opened by Greek immigrant named Anthony Stevens. Four generations later, they still operate under the Stevens family by current owner, Greg Stevens. (You can find Greg on Facebook here). Despite the restaurants name, this popular food item began right here in the Ocean State. On Smith Hill in Providence to be exact, where the first New York System opened its doors in 1927. Ever since then, Rhode Islanders have been going "all the way."
Made from a small, thin frankfurter consisting both of veal and pork, these little delicacies have a different taste from a traditional hot dog which is made of beef. Once placed in a steamed bun, the wiener is topped with yellow mustard and meat sauce which is seasoned with spices such as cumin, paprika, chili powder and allspice. It's then covered in finely chopped onions and sprinkled with celery salt. This preparation is what's known as "all the way." Because of their size, patrons order three or four wieners at a time. To keep with the demand of hungry customers, vendors prepared about a dozen at a time balancing them across their forearm. This became known as the "up the arm" method and has since been too risky to use anymore.
Hot wieners are not only a fast inexpensive lunch, but also popular after a late night out on the town. Like the Beer Fairy said above, "after drinking my part." And Greg Stevens even said, "people that remember me from two in the morning." By the way, thanks for the lunch Greg. Yes hot wieners are fantastic and especially taste great with a 'Gansett. Two Rhode Island favorites, 'Gansett and Gaggers. We couldn't ask for a better pair.