U.S. Open: Chomp on a Hotdog

Hotdogs and sporting events belong together, so when I went to my first U.S. Open tennis match, I knew I’d have to see what the Arthur Ashe Stadium had to offer. Given a delay caused by matches earlier in the day, the Nadal/Gabashvili pairing started late, so I wasn’t able to take my first bite until darkness had descended over Queens.

I left my seat and ambled over to the concession as the players battled into the night to see what a U.S. Open hotdog would taste like, and I found three alternatives I could use to satisfy my hotdog jones. There was an Italian sausage, which would have been too upscale for me if it hadn’t spent what looked like an eternity under the heating lamp. That left traditional hotdogs in two sizes: regular and foot-long. Obviously, I chose the latter … wouldn’t you?

Carefully balancing my cardboard tray – laden with my two foot-longs, water and a beer (Heineken Light, my feeble attempt to make sure there was something healthy on the tray) over to the condiment counter, where I added ketchup and mustard.


%Gallery-101120%Back at my seat, I took my first bite. Simply maneuvering the monstrosity to my mouth took two hands, and I had to be careful to ensure my shirt remained clear of the red and yellow adorning my dogs. As two models of physical fitness sprinted, grunted and heaved under the lights on the court below, I pierced the casing of an American tradition.

I was not disappointed.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium hotdog was exactly as unimpressive as I’d thought it would be. It didn’t quite snap when I bit, and the temperature was only lukewarm, in part my fault because of a detour to the smoking area. The taste wasn’t bad, though. Some stadium dogs can resemble warm bologna too closely, but this one was the real deal. I munched mercilessly and quickly.

While the U.S. Open’s hotdogs don’t compare to those I’ve had in Iceland, Montreal or Antigua, they get the job done when you’re baking in the hot city sun (or if you’re suffering through a sweltering New York night). It’s not the taste that matters when your back is pressed against the hard stadium seats. Rather, it’s the fact that you’re participating in a uniquely American institution that’s important. If you’re among the masses headed to New York for the U.S. Open, be sure to grab a dog –and make it a foot-long!

[Photos by Laurie DePrete]

Disclosure: I was a guest of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, Andrew Hickey and Laurie DePrete. My opinions of these Queens hotdogs were not influenced in any way by the Caribbean destination.

Travel, alcohol consumption up, according to TripAdvisor

We’ve seen travel predictions all over, such as Memorial Day travel will be up with the summer down. Everyone’s weighing in. The latest from TripAdvisor is that little has changed in a year. Actually, this isn’t TripAdvisor‘s opinion so much as that of more than 1,800 of its readers in the United States. More than a quarter of those taking vacations plan to make them last from a week to 10 days, with 21 percent upping the ante to 11 days to two weeks. Nearly 20 percent are going for up to three weeks.

Just over half of TripAdvisor’s respondents (56 percent) are taking the same amount of vacation they did last year, while 7 percent will spend more time on recreation than they did last summer.

At least these 1,800 respondents are still interested in having a good time. Thirty-six percent of them are more likely to down a bit more booze on the road … and 28 percent exercise less, with 25 percent eating more junk food. Ice cream is the favorite food (44 percent), and margaritas are the favorite drink (44 percent).

This is only one way that we change our behavior while traveling. Respondents also connect to the internet less (63 percent), watch less television (56 percent) and return fewer calls and e-mails (52 percent).

The top destination this summer is the beach, with 58 percent of respondents ready to get some sand in their toes. Hogging beach chairs will piss them off, though. Thirty-two percent see this behavior while they travel often – nine percent always.

Still have doubts? Not Michele Perry, senior vice president of global communications for TripAdvisor: “Recession be damned, Americans are preparing to pack up the beach bags and boogie boards en masse this summer.”