I'm from N.J. which is the hot dog capital of the world in my opinion. We have many great hot dog restaurants serving a wide diversity of hot dogs ranging from Texas Weiners, Italian Hot Dogs, Kosher style all beef; N.J. deep fried (Like Rutt's Hut and Hiram's) and quality beef/pork griddle franks like Max's, Windmill and Galloping Hill Inn.
New York has basically the boiled pushcart Sabretts (okay, but I prefer grilled) and the well known places that serve all beef, grilled dogs such as Papaya King, Gray's Papaya, and Katz's. Two newer places are Crif's Dogs which serves a deep fried Thumann's (same as Hiram's and Rutt's in Jersey) and F&B which uses the famous Usinger franks from Wisconsin. I love their famous Angus all beef frank; but F&B uses a beef/pork dog and quickly flash fries it.
I've contributed to the many hot dog posts on these forums including the one on the quintessential N.Y. Hot Dog. I'm writing to share something with you that I just discovered. I knew that the dogs from Papaya King, Gray's, and Katz's were produced by Marathon Enterprises of East Rutherford, N.J. (Sabrett). I was told by many people that each place had a proprietary recipe just for them. I've paid $37.50 for a 5lb bag of Papaya King hot dogs. Quite expensive I think. I got to thinking that maybe I could get these same hot dogs at one of Sabrett's N.J. distributors a lot cheaper and a lot closer. I called 2 distributors and they said they were quite sure that the dogs sold at the three mentioned places were indeed the basic Sabrett Hot Dog. I didn't know whether to believe them. I contacted someone at Marathon and told them I was interested in buying hot dogs that were similar to Papaya King's. I think this person thought I was purchasing a large quantity for a business. He told me that they make 2 different dogs. One is all beef, and the other is a beef/pork blend. The come skinless or natural casing and in different sizes. But he assured me that the dogs at Papaya King and Grays ARE THE EXACT SAME DOG! Ditto for Katz's except they are 8 to a lb rather than 10 to a lb for the other 2.
Furthermore, you can buy these dogs at a Sabrett distributor for 17.50 for a 5 lb bag. This beats 37.50. Imagine that! I was also told that these places want to be thought of as different and unique; so they like to say that their dogs are produced under a proprietary recipe or use different spices. Well, I consider myself a hot dog conniseur, but I was fooled. I did think they were pretty similar, but thought I preferred Papaya King. If there is any difference between Papaya King, Gray's, and Katz's, it is imagined. Or in the way they are cooked; although all are cooked on a griddle and Katz's is slightly larger. Funny that a lot of the mystique surrounding these places are strictly due to hype and marketing. Don't get me wrong, they are great dogs; BUT THEY ARE THE EXACT SAME! In Jersey, there is a place called Boulevard Drinks which serves the exact same dog, only they call it Sabrett. So if you live in Jersey, try this place. Marathon's beef/pork dogs are served at the Windmill (griddled) and Calahan's and the Hot Grill (deep fried). I don't know if it's appropriate to divulge any other info over this forum; so contact me if you have any questions.