Hot Dogs a la Lum’s

Lum’s was a chain of casual restaurants in the United States in the 1960s, lasting until the early ’80s. I patronized the outlet in Plattsburgh, New York, some 40 years ago.

I’ve collected information on Lum’s, and may revisit its arc, as there are many points of interest. For now, this essay at Wikipedia covers the basic history well. It includes an evocative early photo of Lum’s in Florida.

At its peak the corporate office had some good money behind it, and good technical resources, but success eluded at national level for some reason. By the mid-1980s Lum’s as a chain was no more, but individual restaurants carried on here and there. The last apparently was in Bellevue, Washington.

I mentioned earlier the Ollieburger, a staple of Lum’s menu. It was named for an Oliver in New York who devised the recipe and cooking technique.

And now to the famous Lum’s hot dog. Lum’s billed it as “steamed” in beer, but it was more simmered I think. This humble offering stretched back to Lum’s origins as a curb-side wiener palace in 1950s South Florida.

I had tried cooking hot dogs in beer before but without a clear success. Of course, Beer et Seq pours in the beer with fervour, usually of tongue-stripping qualities (all those hops!). The results were too bitter, and unbalanced.

In researching Lum’s history I found what seems to be the original hot dog recipe. In the website Talk of the Village, some seven years ago, “Senior Citizen” contributed a recipe he dubbed authentic.

In the Parafu site in 2018 the same recipe appeared, with photos and other good details. So I followed their approach.*

It blends beer and water (proportions of 1:2), caraway seed, powdered garlic, sugar, and sliced onion. The mix is simmered with the dogs for 15 minutes.

Having cooked many a hot dog in my time, I’ve found a quarter of an hour is needed, for boiling that is. Less time, the dogs do not heat through thoroughly. More time, they swell too much.

Senior Citizen knew the original dish in Florida and stated it came with a sauerkraut or a chili topping. He said the kraut was doused with sherry, which I can see being really good.

I didn’t have kraut or chili, so a zip of winey alcohol was moot. I’ve got a Bual** somewhere, and must remember it when I get some sauerkraut.

For the current try I used just ballpark mustard and relish. It worked just fine. In fact, best hot dog ever.

The type of hot dog will be your choice. I happened to have chicken-based ones, which proved excellent. And not too heavy – I had two without discomfort, the, um, acid test.

The onion definitely gave a flavour. The beer imparted only faint bitterness due to being diluted. I used Kozel, a Czech beer, but almost any will do, light, dark, etc., I don’t think it matters.

It’s hard to say how the other seasonings affected the taste. I couldn’t pick any one out, but a good recipe can work like that, where the result is savoury and just right.

Escoffier, it’s not. But good scoff, it is.


*[Note added July 20, 2021]. The two links for the claimed Lum’s hot dog recipe appear no longer to work. A reader drew this to my attention. See in the Comments. I suggest there another way to obtain what seems the original recipe.

**Madeira, not sherry, but it should work as well.


3 thoughts on “Hot Dogs a la Lum’s”

  1. The Parafu domain has expired and the link to the “mylums” from “Senior Citizen” for the since closed Seekonk Mass Lum’s is now dead, so I don’t think I can see the Lum’s beer steamed hotdog recipe you wrote about. Is the recipe the same as the copycat recipe also listed by “Senior Citizen” in his post #6 on the Talk of the Villages or was there another (I got the impression he posted a more detailed, more accurate one from a now nonexistent link?) If you still have the Parafu recipe please post it!

    I’ve been in Australia for almost 2 years and the hotdogs here are nothing like the hotdogs back home in the USA. I miss the beer steamed (beer boiled?) hotdogs I had as a young person growing up in Puerto Rico, Coconut Grove and Nashville…varied Lum’s locations, but their recipe was consistent.

    • Thanks for your message, yes the links seem no longer to work. I placed a note in the text to that effect, but can make some further suggestions here.

      I had simply viewed those recipes earlier, didn’t print them or anything. As I recall, it was two cups water to one of beer (so 2:1, quantity would vary with amount cooked, ditto the rest), one onion sliced, and one teaspoon each caraway seed, sugar, and garlic powder. It may have said to boil this first for 15 minutes and then cook the hot dogs, but I’m not sure on that point. In practice I don’t think it would matter a great deal, but people could try different ways.

      However, looking further online, I see a firm exists in Florida that markets Lum’s recipes. This is the link:

      They mention the hot dog recipe, for only $7.50, and prices for other famous dishes of Lum’s. I may buy one of these, as source seems reliable. Hope this helps.


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