Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rudy's Hot Dogs- A Family Tradition

About a week ago, Phil and I were on rare walk together during daylight.  As we filled each other in on daily events he mentioned casually that the Toledo Air National Guard was participating in their big exercise coming up.

Oh Really? Says Jen. And will the Toledo Guard be bringing Jen some of the World Famous Rudy's Hot Dog Sauce?

Um I don't know say Phil. aka Buddha, Oh did I tell you they were filming for a newscast at work too?

See the funny thing here is that Phil holds a very special place in his heart for the media.  And it's not a good place. He usually politely declines to be present for most media opportunities. He likes to stay off the grid.  He said he asked specifically not to be in any close ups for the newscast. Yet somehow the grid finds him. I find it hysterical that for the first 3 years of our relationship I had to endure hundreds of mock interviews regarding anything from sports events, to test performance to who had the best ever Dorito Crunch. The kid was a natural. So I wasn't surprised a few years later after a parachute jump into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl- to see a photo of young Phil being interviewed for the local TV station.  As it turns out- one of the guys told them he was a local boy as a joke- so he finally got his big interview. Years later after his first deployment- he was wrangled again by a local crew for an interview.  And then again on the day they returned.  I think at some point he filled his 15 minutes of fame and was happy to share the fun with others who seemed to relish it more. Since then he generally finds a way to be anywhere but in front of a news cast or camera.  That is something we both share- neither one of us particularly likes to be in the spotlight- it just feels awkward.

My dad was the complete opposite. He could walk into the room and command it. Lily has that gift. My dad had a gift for making horrible situations laughable and for really testing the boundaries. He would do really quirky things just to make us smile. Or just because he could. One of these quirks was the randomness of gifts he brought home from frequent business trips back and forth from the Toledo office.   We moved to Colorado in the late 80's from Ohio. Toledo had been our families' home for generations.  It was a tough adjustment until we realized how much bigger the world was than Toledo. Yet Toledo would forever hold a certain place in our hearts with a tattered and well loved label- home.

Toledo was supposed to be a big city and it tried for years to find it's niche- yet somehow never did. It was a port town with major rail connections when air travel became big. Yet somehow- like the Connolly's- it just keeps plugging along, trying to find a way.  As a child- the only big thing that I knew came out of Toledo was Klinger from M*A*S*H. Of Course later, I would see pieces of Toledo everywhere-  A JEEP  always reminded me of the exit to Grandma Connolly's house- off of Willy's Parkway.  When we would go to Grandma's- often times we would stop and Pick up Rudy's Hot Dogs.  We would stand in line at this Toledo institution and order as many dogs as we thought we could stomach. We would down them with red Fanta while perched under the least scary deer or elk head mounted above each table.  Rudy's are not your average Coney Dog and probably could not be marketed effectively to a broad market, but they were a tradition.

After we moved to Colorado- it was one of the gastronomic delicacies we missed. Mom tried pretty convincingly to replicate the sauce and even steamed the buns to the point of sogginess- because that's how it's done. But it just isn't the same. So one trip to Toledo dad called to make sure we'd be home for dinner. A lot of times we'd pick him up from the airport and go to dinner- but everyone's schedules were busier. When he walked in the house we could smell it- a waft of home- the meaty spicy call of Rudy's Hot Dogs.  Those were the tastiest, most well travelled hot dogs we'd had in years.  As the story went- he just wanted to bring us a taste of home. Mom later hypothesized that he may have just been planning ahead for a long flight and that he never much cared for the airline food. Regardless of inspiration or reason- he waited for Rudy's to open- had them pack up 2 dozen hot dogs, quadruple bag and insulate them, raced to the airport- hand carried them on a puddle jumper to Detroit- made the connection to Denver- all the while fending off fellow hungry passengers who identified the familiar scent.

A couple of years ago, I took the kids home.  We drove by both Grandma's houses on our way to a friend's house for lunch.  I couldn't pass up the Rudy's. Even though we were on our way to lunch. We ran inside to get a snack. I let them know- it was just a snack. The kids marveled at the stuffed venison while I ordered- taking notice they now sold cans of the famous sauce. Toledo still has the small town feel and I did get an approving nod when I ordered a dozen cans to go with a couple of hot dogs and a Fanta.  I mean after all I was no longer from around there- but I could still take some home with me. The kids, now addicted to Rudy's would down 3-4 at a time and requested them for every meal after that.

We had Rudy's A LOT that trip. So when Phil mentioned Rudy's might be on the way soon- Bella and Lily immediately perked up. Presents? Rudy's. You mean the place where we went that one time that you only let us have half a hot dog?

Yes. The same place that we went 4 other times that you had like 3 hot dogs.

Yeah we like those.

This morning, bright and early I get a call from my neighbor.  Your husband was on the news! I don't generally watch the local news because I know it's going to be 82 degrees, there will be traffic, there are waves somewhere around the island and somebody did something that was stupid and got arrested because it's an island- where are they gonna go?  I laugh hysterically because I know Phil will be mortified. I then run over to my neighbor's house to witness the recorded spectacle.  I have to say he looks pretty handsome and like my Buddha. And he probably wouldn't have gotten any screen time had he not been so adamant about not being on screen.

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

HNN-Hawaii Air National Guard Aerial War Games
As I watched the story,  my phone vibrates.  I look down to find that Thanks to Toledo Air National Guard- the Rudy's tradition continues! And it feels kinda cool to be responsible for adding another big stamp to the Rudy's Passport!


  1. It's perfect because when it's not raining the sun is burning a hole through your t-shirt. Shade is key. She's also across the street from the bus stop. Lej en pølsevogn

  2. Um I don't know say Phil. aka Buddha, Oh did I tell you they were filming for a newscast at work too? Lej en pølsevogn


Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)