What Makes West Virginia-Style Hot Dogs So Unique?

Ask any culinary enthusiast to name their favorite food town and you'll likely hear the standard multiple-choice options: Los Angeles, New York City, New Orleans, and Chicago, among many other populated cities. But what about cities and states that don't get a lot of recognition? What about "the mountain state" (per Britannica) aka West Virginia?

Biscuits and gravy, skillet cornbread, and chicken-fried beef steak are nothing new in the food scene, as they're common in both West Virginia and many other states, via Only In Your State. And then there are pancakes made of buckwheat, fried morel mushrooms, and the usage of ramps, which is a type of wild onion that is known for its vibrant green, purple, and white colors, per Farmers' Almanac.

West Virginia's unique food scene extends to hot dogs as well. Like most U.S. regions, hot dogs vary in taste, toppings, bun, and choice of cooking method, per NHDSC. Seattle uses cream cheese. New Jersey adds deep-fried potatoes. And Philly somehow manages to combine hot dogs with fish cakes. Here's how West Virginia makes its hot dogs stand out from the rest of the competition.

Lots of toppings

With a West Virginia-style hot dog, it's all about the contrast of tastes and textures within the toppings. Chili is one of the main elements here, as it provides a rich and savory partnership with the hot dog, as noted by West Virginia Tourism. You won't find any beans or veggies in it though, as this "sauce" is made of ground beef, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and chili powder, among other ingredients, per Just A Pinch.

These subtle sweet and tangy notes are contrasted by the crunch and mild sweetness of coleslaw. It's typically made with a mayonnaise base, but in Marmet, West Virginia, you'll find "yellow slaw," which consists of mustard, sugar, and apple cider vinegar, via West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The finished product is full of tang and sugary notes, which is further enhanced by the bright yellow visual appeal.

West Virginia doesn't stop there, as it adds a drizzle of yellow mustard atop the hot dog, though some places in Charleston opt for spicy curry-flavored mustard instead. It's considered the binding force between the slaw and the chili and adds a small punch of acidity.

The final chapter of this hot dog journey ends with some chopped onions for some added sharpness and texture, though it seems to be more of an optional choice. As long as the bun is topped with chili and coleslaw, per Best Things West Virginia, you've definitely got yourself a tasty West Virginia-style hot dog.