The World’s Largest Hot Dog Chain Turns 50

Born in Wilmington in 1961, Wienerschnitzel has grown large enough to call itself the world's largest hot dog chain

The meat comes from Denver. The chili recipe is a secret, and yes, you can have it your way.

"Kraut dog with pickle, relish, mustard and cheddar cheese. No, I don't put the chili on it, because, gotta watch my boyish figure," vows Gary Lynch, a Wienerschnitzel customer.

The man who decided dogs rule is John Galardi. Half-a-century ago he was pals with a guy named Glen Bell, as in Taco Bell.

Bell's wife saw the word Wienerschnitzel in a cook book, and figured John could use it for his first Wilmington hot dog stand.

"First off it means absolutely nothing. It's incorrect, and we have a lot of German people that will tell us, your name is wrong," according to Dennis Tase, CEO of Wienerschnitzel.

Language lessons aside, the company decided to stake its claim on the weiner dog.

Now 50 years later Wienerschnitzel is looking back, and cooking up it's own fast food history.

"I'm into nostalgia, I like hot dogs. I like mustard dog in particular," according to Julie Lauterborn, a Wienerschnitzel customer.

Over the years the Irvine based company has stayed out of the burger wars, adding the patties only as an alternative.

Police dogs came about because of a suggestion by a Long Beach longshoreman.

But the two basic menu items are still the same.

"The staple is our hot dog and our chili," according to Dennis Tase, CEO of Wienerschnitzel.

Company officials believe their 50th anniversary will give loyal followers a culinary look back at what hot dogs used to be in 1961.

"Everybody was happy. It was all about families, and it was a simple life style. Look at today. We're busy, busy, busy," states Dennis Tase, CEO of Wienerschnitzel.

"It's simple and it's not the burger," states Julie Lauterborn, a Wienerschnitzel customer. "It's everything but the burger. I like that."

To celebrate Wienerschnitzel is offering its Original Chili Dog for only 99 cents throughout the month of January.

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