It has been said that you know you have crossed into Maine when you go to the local market and the hot dogs on display are a bright, almost neon red. They are not called hot dogs here. They are red snappers, pure and simple. Oh, you can get the regular hot dogs at grocery stores, but why when you can enjoy a red snapper instead? Red because of their obvious hue, and snapper because of the sharp snap they make when you bite into one. Some folks are turned off at first sight; I know I was just a little suspicious. They just did not look real to me. But this all changed when I first bit into one of these pork franks for the first time. They are delicious!
This is not to say these tasty wieners can’t be found elsewhere, although you might have to look near and far to find them in the grocery store. I have seen them for sale in Massachusetts, but not on the scale they can be found here. In Maine they are a staple anywhere you look, due in large part to the fact that the largest manufacturer of red snappers is Bangor-based W.A. Bean & Sons who have been turning them out since 1918 (founded in 1860, five generations of Beans have been running the company since then). It claims it is the only source of red snappers in Maine and produces over 4 million of the red tube steaks annually.
They are tasty whether served in a split-top frankfurter roll, which is not the same thing as the standard hot dog bun found elsewhere in the USA (see photo above), or by themselves on a plate. Just add a healthy squirt of mustard - I prefer Dijon or a mustard-horseradish confusion - and they are ready to eat washed down with a bottle of Moxie or cold beer.
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