You are the result of many hours of toil.
August 11, 2017 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Gas station hot dogs don't take breaks. You may pull into a rest stop, refill your car’s tank, empty your own, grab some snacks, and peel out again. The whole time, the dogs will have been rotating, slowly, on their shiny metal rollers. When you finally turn in for the night, they may be turning still. Once it has begun its treadmill journey, how far does your average hot dog go before it’s sent to the Great Bun in the Sky? And if, for some reason, it kept going—spinning slowly, hour after hour and year after year—how far could it eventually get?
posted by Johnny Wallflower (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Legally, hot dogs are limited to a two-hour workout limit. But convenience store foods do not always conform to laws, of man or nature.
I can confirm this. I used to work at a C-store - night shift - and I stuck the tanks, and rotated the milk stock and perishables, and refilled the coolers. I never, ever, ever, removed a hotdog from the roller. I may have eaten one or two, perhaps more, but my checklist didn't include the hotdogs, even as it included adding more till sheets to the clipboard by the safe. I can easily imagine some of them went for days.

True story - I quit this job to go be a roadie for Def Leppard. As in, I got hooked up to be walk on crew for the show in town setting up chairs and stacking them after the show, and one of the supervisors liked the cut of my jib and offered me a spot on the regular crew. I was late for work at the gas station as it was, and I hated that job anyway, so.... I called the manager at home, at midnight, and told him I wasn't working there anymore. He said I was fired for calling him at home for a non-emergency. As if I cared. My roadie career didn't work out, but it was fun while it lasted. The gas station burned down a year or two later and was never rebuilt.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:44 PM on August 11 [56 favorites]

I'll just assume the gas station burned because of a Rank 5 Hot Dog Fire.

*remove from recent activity
posted by mannequito at 10:16 PM on August 11

SCIENCE! I'm for any experiment that starts with measuring a hot dog's waist with gummy worms.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:16 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]

Legally, hot dogs are limited to a two-hour workout limit. But convenience store foods do not always conform to laws, of man or nature.

That's a misreading of the rules, the two hour limit is the time the food is allowed to remain between the cold holding (41°F and below) and hot holding temperature (135°F and above). There is no maximum time set by law of how long food can be kept hot, just as there is no maximum time food can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer; it's up to the vendor to set quality standards for their products.

It's a rule because things like steam tables are good at keeping food hot, but not very good at quickly heating up food to the temperatures that inhibit bacterial growth. So if you take prepared food from the refrigerator and put it in a steam table, it could spend too much time between 41°F and 135°F to be served safely.
posted by peeedro at 10:17 PM on August 11 [14 favorites]

There you go, overthinking a plate of dogs...
posted by cosmologinaut at 10:49 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

Right from the start this had me thinking of oden, which Wikipedia defines as a Japanese one pot winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth (and oheso, not normally a fussy eater, defines as inedible).

Oden is offered at convenience stores from a large, heated trolley where the various dishes are kept simmering, seemingly from the moment they trolley is rolled out of storage in the fall until it's rolled back in the spring. And among the immigrants who have been here long enough to become cynical (typically about two days or more), we observe that the trolley is probably stored as is in the spring and rolled out again (as is) in the fall, without any intervening cleaning or changing of the broth or other ingredients.

The above calculation is complicated by the fact that recently convenience stores have made oden available for a much longer season.
posted by oheso at 4:58 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

The linked video on hotdog production is, like many industrial videos, both hypnotizing and at times horrifying. The vat of meat slurry is... Quite something to behold.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:56 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

The gas station burned down a year or two later and was never rebuilt.
One presumes there was no serenade. Or fire brigade.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:21 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]

Lips and anuses, revolving forever in the void.
posted by metagnathous at 7:40 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]

Bad science! The hot dog will eventually wither from the heat until it slips between the rollers and goes to hot dog heaven where it is no more burdened by endless, senseless rolling.
posted by ardgedee at 8:13 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]

The hot dogs would get smaller as they aged and lost moisture wouldn't they? I don't know how that would affect the linear travel though, a smaller circumference but more rotations?

I worked at a movie theater as a teen. We got a new manager who was super-strict with everything (no extra "butter" without charging for it!) and he insisted that we put the leftover hot dogs from the previous day back on the roller grill, instead of throwing them out as per the previous policy. Hot dogs were not a big seller, and we ended up with dogs staying on the grill for several days, slowly cooking until they looked like pepperoni sticks.

We called them "Sylvesters" which will mean something to you if you spent any time at Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe on Seattle's waterfront.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:47 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: Lips and anuses, revolving forever in the void.
posted by mr. digits at 10:11 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

They recently built a new Racetrac near my place of employment and it has been my go-to place for lunch ever since. They have the roller grill, empanadas, premade sandwiches, and a touchscreen custom order thing which will deliver a personal pizza or custom sandwich in about three minutes. And it's about half the price of the Subway they seem to be slowly putting out of business. Dogs lingering on the roller grill are not a worry at this place, because it's more likely you will go in and see everything behind the still-cooking signs.
posted by Bringer Tom at 1:21 PM on August 12

It was funny. There was a Speedway gas station on my way home, and I worked second shift. I was SO addicted to the jalapeno cheddar dogs, and the unique texture rollergrills give a dog, that, since I am not a dick, the second shift Speedway person would continually "forget" to remove two of the JC dogs when she rotated the rollergrill about half an hour before I would get off work and show up. I used to get them so often the manager offered to order me some by the cases (as they were unavailable OTC at the time).
posted by Samizdata at 2:52 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

I realize this will sound like heresy in this thread, but I always prefered the rollergrill cheeseburger link. Most of the places I usually stop on my commute though, only seem to have them once or twice a year.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:40 PM on August 12

Self turning sausage.

See I know everyone is online and never goes outside, but see there's sausage and then there's this animal called a snake... (Yes, like the one in the videos with the badgers and the fungus)...
posted by Samizdata at 7:12 PM on August 12


That 7-11 is in Cambridge, not Somerville.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:42 PM on August 13

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