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  • Writer's pictureAdam Horvath

There's Something About Texas Tommy

Updated: Jan 29

You know that feeling you get, when a mysterious loner moves into town and suddenly one by one, people start dying. No one even fathoms the possibility that he could be the murderer, but your gut tells you otherwise. Like you are the only one that can see the truth. That’s how I feel every time I read about the regional hot dog style known as a Texas Tommy, an admittedly tasty wiener, split down the middle and topped with crisp bacon and melted cheese on a roll, blindly accepted to have been invented in Pottstown Pennsylvania sometime in the 1950’s.

I don't believe it! I've read all the foodie sites' posts writing the same generic origin story, "it was invented in Pottstown". According to so-and-so, who cited another website's story, but there's never a real who, what or where? Come'on, the entire history of the Texas Tommy reads like an elementary school kid's HomeEc project, with the student using a shotty first generation AI software to render a made-up foodigenous, complete with timeline gaps, geographical ambiguity, missing pictures and an ironic name; like calling a bald guy Curly. Other than this video of a 1993 PBS Roadside Restaurant (45:52) featuring Pottstown's, now defunct restaurant The Cup, I can't find any remaining connections between the bacon and cheese hot dog with the town. No Yelp references, no street plaques and almost all the Wikipedia reference links are dead.

I'm not saying it's not real

Whether or not Texas Tommy's started in Pottstown, they are most definitely real. Throughout Philly, many diners, greasy spoons and cheesesteak spots continue to make their own unique versions. The long-standing Johnny's Hots in Fishtown, grills their split Dietz & Watson dogs before adding a sliver of white American and a mound of crispy bacon on a sturdy hoagie roll.

Meanwhile at Oregon Steaks, $4 gets you a small Texas Tommy with a ladle of Whiz lathered onto each side of a potato roll, a split hot dog and a strip bacon. For $9 you get three dogs, more whiz and a handful of fried pork making for a delightfully messy bite.

At Little Pete's in the Fairmount neighborhood, the offshoot of a once legendary Center-City diner of the same name, they smother the entire bun with melted Cooper Sharp and always give a bag of chips. They are widely considered to be one of the first restaurants to introduce the Tommy into the City of Brotherly Love over a half century ago.

In a city known for its amazing local food creations, a Texas Tommy tour could be a fun option. But maybe after you had your fill of cheesesteaks and roast pork hoagies. And you probably want to grab a dipped roast beef sammie from Nick's (on 20th) or a Shank's chicken cutlet, broccoli rabe and provolone next. But then after that, you should definitely put this on your list.

The combination of bacon and cheese is delicious on anything let alone a hot dog so it's a must try, but in my opinion this basic regional hot dog lacks the culinary complexity of the Chicago Style dog, or the triangular evolution of a Michigan. And the absence of a Pottstown history, while interesting in its own right, hasn't resulted in the passionate loyalty of Paterson always fighting for bragging rights for their Texas wiener.

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Mark Neurohr-Pierpaoli
Mark Neurohr-Pierpaoli
Jan 29

I'm ready to call it in favor of a Philadelphia regional serving style.

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