DavidF. & I were buddies in 7th grade; then he moved away. 50 years later I tracked him down and unexpectedly found a west coast beat poet.
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Along with Genesee Cream Ale, the Garbage Plate, and “Chicken French,” the “White Hot” is a Rochester thing… a familiar dietary option for us natives, yet barely appreciated or even barely known beyond the boundaries of western New York State. I’m pleased to share some guest literature on the topic of white hots from my new/old friend DavidF.–
IF PROUST HAD BEEN FROM GATES-CHILI (for my upstate NY homies)
So, my wife and I were in Seattle
at the 2nd & Lenora Starbucks looking for snacks,
and they were all out of lemon pound cake.
"This place has gone to hell ever since
Howard Schultz ran for president," I mumbled,
and looking for a substitute, I saw them.
Madeleines?! How French and pretentious!
How absolutely tailor-made for me,
instantly reminding me of that huge tome
sitting in my bookcase waiting for me
to read it before I die.
"What is it about these that are so special?" said my wife.
"They're like little sponges made out of white sugar.”
“How about you--is there some food that
would instantly send you into reverie?"
And without missing a beat, I found myself blurting
"What are those?"
"Well, they're white hot dogs."
No, not exactly", so I googled 'white hots.'
There is a whole wikipedia entry devoted to them!
I quote--"The white hot originated in the 1920s
in Rochester's German community as a 'white and porky.'
It was originally a cheaper alternative to
high-price red hots dogs, made of
the less desirable meat parts and various fillers."
There was a picture of one, captioned
"A Zweigle's 1/4 pound white hot at Bill Grays"
It was cut length-wise, charred black on top,
and covered with mustard relish mixed with floor sweepings.
"I think I just threw up a little in my mouth,"
said my wife as she looked over my shoulder.
"No, these things were great!
Wow, they're like Rochester's version of chittlins..."
I recalled that time in 1997 when Jessie,
who hailed from East St. Louis,
brought in a crock pot of chittlins
to the accounting dept. potluck.
I was the only one who ate them.
In fact, I took some home.
Now, it was all becoming clear to me--
it's in my blood, going all the way back to
my Grandpa Preston (no Aryan stereotype he,
but rather a black-haired swarthy kraut
whose forebears must've mingled with the Huns
a millennium or so ago.)
Anyhow, the entire interchange suddenly filled me
with such an inexplicable feeling of homesickness
that I wrote this poem.
A bientot, Marcel...
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Thank you, David. I’m truly delighted to reconnect with someone so bright and so true to his principles. I hope to publish more of your pithy observations here.
And my other fellow Rochestarians– please feel free to share your favorite white hot memories… and toppings!