Keith Dorman, a Long Island restauranteur, noticed that a lot of foods from his childhood, such as cupcakes, grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese, were coming back in reinvented ways. However, he noticed that the hot dog was seemingly neglected. He also noticed that the quality of the New York City hot dog seemed to deteriorate over the years, and it was then that he decided to create the Snap Dog.
“I thought, it’s time that we give a makeover to the New York City hot dog cart experience,” Dorman said.
For a few months, Dorman rented out a cart and sold hot dogs on the corner of 55th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Throughout the process, he tried out a skinless hot dog and also had a hot dog maker create hot dogs that had a special, natural casing which ultimately provide that “snap” when you’re eating them. In the communal garage where the vendors kept their carts and items, he noticed that some of the other vendors were advertising a particular brand of hot dog, but they were selling something of lesser quality. The chicken hot dogs in particular were sold with ingredients such as chicken bones, skins, and blood vessels, making it the equivalent to beef’s pink slime.
“People in New York are getting ripped off every single day, especially tourists, because when you go to these carts, you don’t know what you’re getting,” Dorman said.
After some research, Dorman found a company that could essentially brand the “Snap Dog” name onto the hot dog so that it could be distinguished from the others. The Snap Dogs are made of premium beef and are cooked in an old-fashioned smokehouse compared to the average vendor hot dog that has the liquid smoke flavor injected into it.
There are currently close to 30 vendors around Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn who are solely stocking Snap Dog hot dogs. For two hours every Thursday, the street team gives away free hot dogs. The giveaways are at a different location each week and could be found on Snap Dog’s Facebook page. Along with the giveaways, there is also a street crew, often including Dorman himself, that educates people on the Snap Dog benefits and ingredients.
There have been some challenges in trying to get the Snap Dog more accessible. For instance, even with the branding and without tasting it, it’s often difficult for people to notice the difference between the Snap Dog and an average city hot dog because they are so used to the typical subpar hot dog already.
Currently, Dorman's short term goal is to make a name for Snap Dog around the city. Ultimately, his longterm goals are to sell to food distributors such as Restaurant Depot and eventually sell to the supermarkets.