Wienerman and the Great West Virginia Hot Dog Heist
A masterpiece is a masterpiece, even if it's in the shape of a hot dog
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Across all of human history, there are works of art whose very names embody the very best of what humanity can create, masterpieces whose timeless majesty will outlive us all:
Mona Lisa …
Citizen Kane …
Ode To Joy …
… and, of course, Wienerman.
Yes, Wienerman, the 32-inch-tall statue that stood for so many years at the Dairy Winkle restaurant in Campbell’s Creek, West Virginia. Wienerman is not the kind of sculpture you forget: an anthropomorphic hot dog with an oddly aggressive expression, covering himself in ketchup and mustard while inexplicably licking his lips. (Is he going to eat himself?)
Wienerman once guarded the doors of Dairy Winkle, a grill-and-ice cream joint that’s served Campbell Creek for more than a decade. Their straight-outta-1996 website is as charming as it gets, a scrolling menu offering everything from milkshakes to shrimp to something called a “Pizza Dog (Revised and Improved),” interspersed with cuteness like this …
… and then, right below that, a pic of a big ol’ pork barbecue sandwich. Circle of life.
Sadly, Dairy Winkle caught fire earlier this month. Wienerman survived the blaze — timeless art is tough to eradicate — but shortly afterward, some criminal miscreant kicked down the locked doors and made off with Wienerman. Owner Kerry “Paco” Ellison, rightly incensed, offered a reward that grew to $1,000 for Wienerman’s safe return. And guess what?
Salute to the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office! The law received a tip about the statue’s location and returned him — yeah, we know it’s a him, let’s not discuss how we know — to Dairy Winkle, where Paco pledged to bolt him to the counter. The suspect(s) involved in Wienerman’s theft remain at large, possibly having fled to Nepal or Cambodia to avoid extradition.
Now for the not-so-good news: Dairy Winkle remains closed, and likely will stay that way for at least another six months. If you’re so inclined, there’s a GoFundMe set up to help raise money for Paco to repair the restaurant and keep its employees on the payroll; it’s blown past its original $10,000 goal and is now on the way to $25,000. I’ve never been there, but Dairy Winkle is now on my to-visit list. Got to pay homage to Wienerman in person, you know.
Wienerman reminds me of the single most disturbing work of art I’ve ever seen in my life, also encountered in a restaurant. This was a barbecue joint in South Carolina, and this … well, this saucy porcine minx will haunt your nightmares:
The Louvre ain’t got nothing on Southern restaurant art.
You’ve got some roadside weirdness in your camera roll too, I just know it. Share it with us all right here.
Books, Beer & BBQ: January 2023
Hey, how about a new feature here at F&AB? Once a month I’ll offer up three sterling recommendations for where to get some damn fine books, beer and barbecue in the South. These are the places that are worth at least an hour’s detour, every one of them. Let’s start with three first-ballot Hall of Famers …
Books: Square Books, Oxford, Miss.
The granddaddy of all Southern bookstores, right on the square (hence, you know, the name) in beautiful Oxford. I wrote about Square here six months ago, and every word remains true: the second-floor porch is one of the finest spots in the South. Visit them online here, and make plans to get there in person as soon as you can.
Beer: Virginia Beer Co., Williamsburg, Va.
If this joint had been in Williamsburg when I was going to school there, it’s a pretty good bet that I wouldn’t have graduated. On the other hand, I would’ve learned to brew damn fine beer, so … potato, potahto. Peruse their offerings here; I’m partial to Saving Daylight on tap, and Liquid Escape is a heavily crushable summertime beer. If you’re in the area, pick me up a six.
BBQ: Heirloom Market, Atlanta, Ga.
A fusion of Korean and Southern cuisine, Heirloom is unlike anything else in Atlanta, and also better than pretty much anything of either genre. Crammed in a tiny parking lot — they’re not allowed to have seating, so you eat standing up or take it to go — Heirloom is simply magnificent. I would trade one of my children for the Korean BBQ sandwich, but was informed that only U.S. currency was accepted. Go here, look at their menu, and try not to drool on the screen.
You can locate all three of these, and all future BB&B entries, at our fancy new Google Map right here.
Got a suggestion of your own? I welcome — hell, I demand — your recommendations in any or all three categories. Let me know where to go right here, or tell the whole class in the comments below.
That’ll do it for this week. Thanks for hanging, friends, and we’ll see you back here next Saturday!
This is issue #90 of Flashlight & A Biscuit. Check out all the past issues right here. Feel free to email me with your thoughts, tips and advice. If you’re new around here, jump right to our most-read stories, or check out some of our recent hits:
What happens when “Loserville” starts winning?
Hellfire & White Lightning, Part 2: The daredevil choir boy
The best (and worst) Flashlight & A Biscuit stories of 2022
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The Indian Pass Raw Bar (http://www.indianpassrawbar.com) is a legendary Florida Panhandle haunt. Their pay-for-drinks-on-the-honor-system is a classic old-time throwback!