Monday, July 26, 2010

Significant Other: Hummel Brothers

Hidden in the industrial center of New Haven, in the largest parking lot around, stands the faded brick building of Hummel Brothers. The Brothers Hummel provide hot dogs and deli meat to the world and New Haven's finest local businesses. While Hummel's produces several different kinds of cured and boiled hams, turkey, and countless other cold cuts, it is hot dogs that they are the most renowned for. Hot Dogs are summer food. You can eat one or a hundred depending on your mind set and stomach lining. Being that it is summer and the bloggers just relined their stomachs, they set off to enjoy this most New Haven of food.

The surrounding buildings, including Hummel's processing and shipping plant itself (along with another New Haven food plant Lamberti Sausage) provide a very cinematic environment. Giant yellow concrete bricks and trash cans filled only with caution tape are placed around great lake puddles that form in industrial areas such as this. Metallic clangs of machines could be mistaken for either a rehearsal of "Stomp" or the music of the spheres. Film in Cinemascope and you'll make Antonioni proud.

The chemistry of the hot dog is unknown to Hans and Mendez. The way that scrap parts of pig are brought together to form a sausage of uniformed smooth texture and reliable taste is one of the great mysteries of our time. To share our love of this food with you, we will not mention meat slurry, variety meats, sodium nitrate, or MSG. To be honest, after researching hot dogs Hans is unsure about eating one again. Also uncertain are his feelings regarding hot dog flavored water, a seminal musical expression of our time.

The Hummel Bros house a compact deli; Think of a large handicap bathroom, multiply the square footage by two and you have the perimeter of the store. The walls, soda cooler, and shelves are lined with bright brand names: Wonderbread, Coca-Cola, Ruffles, etc. There is a salad bar next to the cooler which, on this day of visitation, would turn off a vegetarian from chlorophyll forever.

The menu offers a variety of options including a daily special of soup or pasta. Who goes to Hummel's for soup on a summer day? The stuffed shells and meatballs looked fresh and homemade, but the bloggers were not here for Sunday dinner. Hans and Mendez ordered a hot dog each and shared a kielbasa. Mendez ordered his dog with the "works", just to say it. Once out of the deli clerk's eye sight he scraped the sauerkraut into a paper bag. Hans stayed modest with relish. The dogs are split in the middle and cooked on a grill, allowing the condiment to stay firmly in place atop the dog. The pinkish color of the hot dog is not tainted by this cooking process. The meal was delicious costing us around ten dollars total. For the full New Haven experience, Hans and Mendez suggest Foxon Park Soda.

The location of Hummel brothers is off putting; you really have to be in the area or a hot dog fiend to seek it out. The clientele suggested truck drivers stopping off either the I-91 or 95 highway for a bite to eat. They might be picking up or dropping off product to the factory itself. The deli's hours of operation are from 11 am to 2:30 pm, so plan ahead. Asides from two other delis (Johny Salomi being an exact replica of Hummel's, but with a better name, only a few hundred feet away) and a silly Teen Center for Twentysomethings, the Long Wharf Theater neighbors Hummels. Look out for Hans and Mendez' world premiere of "Choco Taco: An All Musical Review" starting in late September.

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