When did hot dog vendors become artisan craftsmen?

I deliver flowers. That's what I do. It's not a glamorous life, but it's fun, I enjoy it, and I meet interesting people. I also spend a lot of time on the street walking through neighborhoods I wouldn't normally travel. The one thing that I can always count on, and I will begrudgingly admit, is getting a hot dog from a street vendor. It's like going to see an Adam Sandler movie or watching a couple fight in public; it's a guilty pleasure. I've seen New York go through a lot of phases, from the disaster of the 80s to the clean-up in the 90s to the gentrification of the aughts, but nothing has prepared me for the encounter I had today with the hot dog vendor.

I had just finished a delivery on the Upper East Side to a man who had clearly violated his marital vows as no one sends three dozen roses to their wife with a card reading: "To the most beautiful, forgiving wife that any man would be lucky to have". Here's a tip. If you do something wrong, don't point to your out that they are "forgiving", it's like saying "thank you for letting me continually be a disappointment". It was one o'clock and I was hungry. I could have stopped off at a cafe and had a thirteen dollar sandwich, or I could spend five on a hot dog and still feel like I had eaten a meal. So I chose the latter. My usual vendor, who works the corner at 57th and 5th was not there, so I approached what looked like a computer programmer in an apron. He was wearing an oxford, cleanly shaven and bespectacled with just a hint of "go getter" that made me uncomfortable for someone slinging questionable meat products.

I asked for a hot dog and was treated to a litany of choices: Bavarian Bratwurst, Beijing Dumpling-Dogs, Soup in a Bun, Pizza Wurstel ... it went on and on. So I just asked for a regular hot dog, you know, the kind that you don't want to know what's in it and there's a forty percent chance of a perforated bowel. The hot dog vendor just looked at me, his face a mask of disgust and told me that there are plenty of other carts that I can patronize if I wanted "that sort of thing". So I thought "Hey, I've got an open mind. I'll give it a try." I ordered the French Croissant Weiner and handed him a five dollar bill to which he looked at me and continued to hold out his hand. I looked at the prices and saw that what I was holding in my hand would cost me eight dollars and fifty cents. For basically a hot dog. Eight dollars. And fifty cents.

I handed him back his hot dog and wished him a good day. If I wanted to pay that much for a guilty pleasure, I would have brought a ticket to an Adam Sandler movie.

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