For more than a decade, he’s scaled the steps of Comerica Park in Detroit, selling hot dogs to Tigers fans and occasionally busting out in song to hawk his wares. Then last week, he was given the boot by the stadium’s foodservice contractor. Some say it was because of his too-harsh stance against ketchup on hot dogs. Others say it was just because fans finally got sick of his singing.
In an interview with the Detroit News, the well-known sausage-slinger says he was 15-season career came to a halt last week during a 10-minute meeting with Sportservice, the contractor who runs Comerica Park’s concessions.
“It was general employee conduct,” he tells the News, while questioning what he’s suddenly doing wrong that merits dismissal. “I’ve vended the same way for the past 15 years, so there’s nothing new to any of this.”
The News writes of rumors that his avowed dislike of ketchup on hot dogs may be behind the firing, as some fans say he would hassle those who asked for packets of the red stuff with their dogs.
But the vendor, who also happens to have his own brand of mustard, says he’s always provided ketchup to those who ask for it.
“They’ve asked me to have ketchup certainly,” he says. “And I do carry ketchup.”
Then there’s his habit of busting out into faux-operatic song, as seen in the video above. It’s possible that some people just got sick of hearing his “HOTTTTTTTTT DOGGGGGGGGGGGGS!” song on repeat for several years. Given that he often hung around in pricier seats along the baselines and behind home plate, we can imagine that some well-heeled fans might have used their influence to have him heave-hoed from his gig.
Sportservice isn’t saying, but sources did tell the news it wasn’t the singing. So what was it?
Fans seem divided on the firing, with some calling for his reinstatement, saying he’s an integral part of the Tigers experience, while others merely say “good riddance” and look forward to watching their team lose in the playoffs without hearing his song or being hassled about ketchup.
The vendor has filed an appeal over his dismissal, so this story isn’t over yet.
In the meantime, a quick poll of Consumerist staff found the following opinions regarding ketchup on hot dogs:
Laura: “Gross and wrong.”
Mary Beth: “Yes, but I know I’m a sinner (mustard makes me sneeze).”
Meg (who is from Chicago, where ketchup on a hot dog can land you at the bottom of Lake Michigan): [Stared blankly, as if I'd asked her a question in an alien language]
As for me, I’ll survive with or without ketchup, but I only get my stadium hot dogs from the infinitely cooler Spinning Weenie guy at Citizens Bank Park: