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A hot dog education at College Dogs

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A hot dog education at College Dogs edge photo by Caitlin DeVore
New Orono restaurant features specialty hot dogs

ORONO When most of us think of hot dogs, we more or less think of the same thing. A bunch of hot dogs on the grill, a bag of rolls and a handful of basic condiments ketchup, mustard, relish. That tends to be our default thought process with regards to hot dogs.

But then you visit a place like College Dogs, located in the University Mall at 6 Stillwater Avenue in Orono. College Dogs is the kind of restaurant that reminds you of the true and epic potential of the hot dog.

'I moved here from Fall River (Massachusetts) about a year ago,' said Jody Blanchette, owner-operator of College Dogs. 'I came up to visit some friends in the Old Town/Orono area and liked it so much I decided to move here with my family.

'I was looking for a way to make a living,' he continued, 'so I decided to bring something that wasn't around here; stuff like hot dogs, fried treats, steamed burgers, fried dinner plates and home cooked food.'

He's not kidding about the 'home cooked' part, either. Blanchette's mother actually makes the chili, meat sauce and baked beans that are used in the restaurant.

College Dogs has put together an impressive menu. Let's talk about some of the hot dogs. They have regular hot dogs, of course. They've got red ones available too, of course it is Maine after all. Things get a bit more complex with offerings such as chili dogs and baked bean dogs. And then come the regionally named dogs the New Yorker, the Coney Dog, the New Jersey Ripper. My personal favorites thus far have been the Mississippi Dog (a hot dog slathered in baked beans, bacon and BBQ sauce) and the Chicago Dog (filled with onion, tomato, mustard, relish and a whole pickle spear), but I have yet to regret a choice I've made there.

There's more to the menu than just the hot dogs, although they are certainly the star of the show. College Dogs also offers steamed burgers (which I had never had; they are beefy and delicious and very different from your typical burger) and assorted fried sides (including fried pickle spears).

I would be remiss in not mentioning the desserts. The delicious deep-fried desserts. College Dogs offers an assortment of deep-fried candy bars. They also do deep-fried Oreos, Twinkies and Devil Dogs. They even offer a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Take a second and let that sink in; a deep-fried PB&J.

It just got real.

Blanchette is still just getting started, but he's already making an effort to support local businesses.

'We buy food and items locally in order to help local businesses and the community,' said Blanchette. 'We will be adding new menu items soon; we'll also be adding delivery service to local businesses and soon [we'll also deliver] residentially.'

All hot dogs are not created equal. College Dogs offers a chance to transcend the traditional there's more to hot dogs than just ketchup and relish. Let Jody Blanchette and the crew at College Dogs show you just how much more.


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