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Rhode Island's "New York System" Weiners or "Gaggers"

Order 3 Weiners "All the Way" for a Late Night Treat


Photo of Olneyville New York System Weiners

Olneyville New York System Weiners

Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
Rhode Island's New York System wieners are a pork hot dog, served on a steamed hot dog bun, and topped with a meat sauce that's similar in texture to a beanless chili -- although there's nothing else that's chili-like in the flavor. To this, add onions sprinkled with celery salt, and mustard. They go down very easy, despite the knickname "gaggers", and it's typical to order them three at a time.

Why are they called "New York System"? The story goes that these dogs were originally served in New York's Coney Island by Greek immigrants, who moved up north and apparently had the idea that attaching the name New York to their product would be a smart marketing move. This story is historically puzzling for a couple of reasons: first, New England and New York have a centuries old rivalry, and second, the hot dogs that most people think of from Coney Island, Nathan's, was a business run by Nathan Handwerker, a Jewish immigrant from Poland -- and these hot dogs were not commonly served with a meat sauce. But there was evidently a Greek diaspora from the Coney Island area, as the other place where this style of hot dog can be found is in the Greek community in Detroit , where it's known as a "Coney Island Hot Dog", and the sauce, "Coney sauce".

Whatever its provenance, New York System weiners (also spelled "wieners") are an old-timey treat, hearkening back to the 1950s, when the hot dog was America's great iconic food item.

Where to Find Weiners

Order three all the way with coffee milk at the counter of Olneyville's New York System , or check out Original New York System wieners at 424 Smith Street, which is apparently the oldest surviving restaurant of its type in town. Another solid pick is Rod’s Grille, at 6 Washington St. in Warren.

Read more about Rhode Island's Favorite Foods.

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