Founded in 1927, that vintage sign alone made Retro Roadsis and I stop at the Original New York System on Smith Street in Providence RI on a rainy day.
The weather had obviously affected the late lunch crowd, as we were the only gals in the place, but we picked out some seats at the counter, where Chuck kept us informed and entertained during our entire visit. He was a wealth of information, so if he’s there make sure you sit at the counter. And while the interior has been remodeled way beyond the 1927 roots, you could tell that there was history happening here.
Here Chuck shows us how swell the sign looks when the neon is all lit up. It’s a beacon in the dark for college kids looking for a late night snack. And multiples of hot weiners are a staple on the Rhode Island roadfood menu.
Another classic Rhode Island treat served at the Original New York System is coffee milk. And how cool is this? Chuck showed us that they’ve been around so long that they still get their coffee milk delivered in old-fashioned milk cans, straight from Christiansen’s Dairy just down the street. Talk about old timey!
But back to the real raison-d’etre of the Original New York System – the weiners! Silly me, I thought that hot weiners / wieners and hot dogs were basically the same thing. Nope! Wieners are made of pork and veal, where hot dogs are usually beef. Served on a steamed bun – but not a New England style hot dog roll. Noted.
The other thing that makes these pink pups so distinctive is the toppings that come on a standard weiner – sauce made with ground meat and spices, chopped onions, mustard and a shake of celery salt.
All that and a glass of coffee milk? Oh, the things I try in the name of Retro Roadmap (Don’t worry, I always keep some antacids in my purse!)
I did not mind my weiner, but Retro Roadsis was not a fan. Also know as gaggers / “Gaggahs” – they’re definitely an acquired taste, but a regional specialty that has its followers and fans across the globe. I didn’t want to make Chuck feel bad that we didn’t finish our food, so I ate hers too. I’m a sucker for regional foods, and politeness.
(Remember what I said about antacids? Perhaps with my delicate girlie tummy I should get an endorsement!)
Some tidbits about this Original New York System location, courtesy of our host:
While attending RISD, Talking Head David Byrne worked here for a short bit, and Chuck insists that the grillman’s custom of lining up the dogs on his arm inspired the choppy arm movments in his new wave dancin’. Alas, Mr Byrne says his inspiration was more global.
Why the mention of New York in the name? Chuck says that the New York System name was a way of inferring that the restaurants were clean and modern, like those found in New York. Since there are a few other New York System named wiener stands in Rhode Island, it must have been a popular concept.
There are other things on the menu, but if you’re only gonna stop here once, get the weiner.
Original New York System Weiners
424 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02908
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