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Hot Dog! Nu-Way or Varsity?
by Ed Williams


Have y’all been keeping up with what’s going on at the movies lately? One of the biggest surprises this year has been the success of the film Freddy vs. Jason. As of this past weekend it was the top box office grossing film for two straight weeks, taking in close to eighty million dollars.

This success has really taken critics by surprise, but, if you really think about it, it probably shouldn’t have. Freddy and Jason are the Frankenstein monster and Wolfman of this era, and everyone loves seeing two legendary horror characters battle it out to see who the baddest of the bad really is.

Now, with that concept firmly in our minds, we need to think about other whispered and oft talked about match-ups. Match-ups that fire the imagination and get peoples’ tongues a-waggin’ about who might be the best in this or that situation. So, for all of us who hail from Georgia, and for all of us who have ever whispered or talked about this, we are now gonna discuss one of the most hotly debated questions of all time -- a question all true Georgians need an answer for, and a question that we’re gonna resolve right here.

The question I‘m referring to is this: Which place has the best hot dogs, Nu-Way Weiners or The Varsity?

Yeah, y’all heard me right, Nu-Way vs. The Varsity. If you come from Georgia, you can go ahead and skip on to the next paragraph. In case you’re a newcomer, the two best known hot dog establishments in our state are Nu-Way Weiners and The Varsity. Nu-Way hails from central Georgia, getting its start in Macon back in 1916, and is still going strong today with a number of mid-state locations. I’m also proud to say that I’m good friends with Spyros Dermatus, the President of Nu-Way Weiners. The only thing is, Spyros hasn’t slipped me any free Nu-Ways lately, so I’m more inclined to be somewhat objective in our upcoming contest.

As for The Varsity, it’s been going strong in downtown Atlanta since 1928, and it’s also in one other location, which I will not mention here for personal moral reasons. Their hot dogs have been eaten by people all over the world, and, just to give you an idea of the scope of their operation, on the day of a big Georgia Tech vs. somebody game they can serve as many as 50,000 hot dogs.

So, what we’re talking about here are the two heavyweights of Georgia hot dogs, the two undisputed champs. And, with those facts now firmly in place, it’s now time to decide which one of them is really the best.

To properly evaluate them, we’re going to examine the following three factors:
1. Who has the best chili dog?
2. Who has the best slaw dog?
3. Whose fries are the best?

These are the true standards any proven hot dog gourmet would go by. And here’s how they shake out:

1. Best chili dog - This is close, but Nu-Way has to get the nod. The Nu-Way chili dog is a work of art, Grecian chili, onions, mustard, and that great red hot dog. The Varsity’s version is real close - great chili, mustard, and a good dog as well. The one intangible that gives Nu-Way a real edge is that you order their chili dog “all the way.” Since the concept of “all the way” raises wonderful sexual connotations in my mind, I have to firmly give Nu-Way the nod on their offering.

2. Best slaw dog - This is really close, as I love both establishments’ offerings, but I’ve gotta go with The Varsity’s slaw dog. Their slaw is outstanding, and it sort of blends into the flavor of the wiener, if that makes any sense. They also stack it in such a way that it hardly ever falls off the bun while you’re eating it, which is a real plus. Nu-Way has no reason not to hold its head up high, though. The New York Times, in a recent article, stated that Nu-Way had the best slaw dog in the entire USA! You can’t beat that with a stick, can you?

3. Best fries - A statistical dead heat. I could total up the merits of either establishment’s offerings. Nu-Way’s are hotter, crispier, and longer. The Varsity’s are greasier and have a touch more flavor. So, this is a dead heat, any way you look at it.

Now, as we look at our overall results, we can see that . . . what? Y’all think the results are inconclusive, and that this column has resolved nothing?

Hmmmmmm, I sure do hate to hear that. I really, really do. I guess the only thing to do now is to start working on this column’s sequel . . .

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BIO: Ed Williams
Born in Forsyth, Georgia, Ed was raised in Juliette and is a proud product of the Monroe County public school system. His life took a decided turn in 1995 when he bought a home computer and began writing down wild old stories about his upbringing in Juliette. These stories, through an unusual series of events, were published in 1998 in hardback under the title, Sex, Dead Dogs, and Me: The Juliette Journals.

Ed’s book started out in four bookstores in Macon, Georgia. Through word of mouth and the internet, eight months later he was being stocked nationally in the Books-A-Million chain. In December of 2000, Southern Charm Press (Atlanta) purchased the rights, and published the book in paperback. Since then, Ed's second book, entitled Rough As A Cob: More From the Juliette Journals, has been released (March 2003) in both hardback and trade paperback formats by River City Publishing. His third book, tentatively titled, Honin' The Tulip: Yet More Juliette Journals, is currently being considered for future publication.

Recently, Ed appeared on the Georgia Public Radio program, "Cover to Cover," and has begun writing a weekly nationally syndicated newspaper column called Free Wheelin'. He is in demand as a speaker, and is already being compared to some of Georgia’s most noted humorists.

Ed’s new book, Rough As A Cob, can be ordered by calling River City Publishing toll-free at: 877-408-7078. You can contact him via email at: ed3@ed-williams.com, or through his web site address at: Ed-Williams.com.

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