By far the most popular eating establishments in "The World of Tomorrow" were the lowly hot dog stands. Here is there story.
What? No Mustard?
While the French restaurant titillated the most sophisticated New York palates, nothing satisfied the hunger cravings of the fair's general populace like the good, old, American hot dog.
The fair corporation signed a contract with Childs Company to manage the inexpensive food concession stands. After signing the contract, Grover Whalen asserted: "The restaurants are nationally known, and the Childs name is a symbol of cleanliness, quality and wholesomeness."
Consumer scientists predicted one out of every three fairgoers would consume a hot dog, the piece de resistance of the poor man's lunch. Therefore, Childs' president George Strohmeyer estimated fairgoers would consume over 30,000,000 frankfurters and hamburgers throughout the fair's run.
Or, to put it into layman's terms, if all of the hot dogs were made into a single frankfurter and all of the hamburgers into a single patty, each would be nine feet in diameter and be as tall as the Empire State Building. And the buns would cover all of New York City's streets.
Childs employed six hundred vendors to man their eighty booths scattered throughout the fairgrounds. Unlike most fair-oriented concessions, the Childs' blue and orange kiosks and uniforms did not display the ever-present Trylon and Perisphere.
To assure the best customer service, the Childs organization held a school for its sudden influx of young employees at its 184 Fifth Avenue kitchen.
Paul Reich, the company's head chef, demonstrated the proper preparation methods. A hot dog needed to be cooked one minute on each side, a hamburger for a minute and a half. The trick was in turning the hot dogs with a fork without letting the juices escape.
"When a customer gives his order, take a folded napkin in the pam of the left hand, slide open the door which covers the roll bin. Take out a roll with the prongs of the fork."
"Now take a frankfurter from the grill with a fork and insert it in the sliced roll. Hold the napkin containing the food to the customer without placing your hand on any part of the food".
Mrs. Blanche Brown, Childs' chief dietitian, explained the correct delivery procedure. Service was to be left to right, first come – first served. Mrs. Brown explained most customers would now leave the stand to search out one of the fifty-nine cold drink concessions, but the Childs' employees should encourage the purchase of their hot coffee or tea with "They're hot, they're hot!"
Humorist Bugs Baer predicted: "The most popular building at the fair will be the Frankfuterium and the Mustard-cade." The company also announced it expected to break the hot dog record on opening day: Coney Island's three and a half tons set in 1936. (In fact Childs sold two and a half tons the first day, their whole supply, but a reported forty-one tons over the opening week.)
Opening day was a mixed blessing for all. The fair announced eight restaurants with a seating capacity of 43,200 patrons would be available. However, fewer than half were ready for the opening. Officials blamed the recent plumbers strike. The next day the Brooklyn Eagle ran this headline: "Fair Famine Foils Famished Food Fanciers."
Those who did enter a restaurant often faced a half – hour wait for service. Many of the silk-hatted officials waiting for the opening ceremonies ended up munching a hot dog.
Therefore, most fairgoers had an easier choice: hot dogs cost ten cents and ham, cheese and tongue sandwiches fifteen cents. Customers responded to the sellers' spiel: "Ho - - - - ot dogs a dime! Boneless, skinless, harmless and homeless! Who'll have a dog?" Obviously, quite a few. One stand took in more than $1,200.
While the expected million-person crowd never developed, the most crowded areas of the grounds were those surrounding the Childs concessions. The 120,000 hot dogs sold out early. Columnist Edwin Hill predicted: "The hot dog seems to rival television in popular interest and is fattening more bankrolls than much of the showy technical magic of the show or shows."
One tired fairgoer, however, said there were more hot dogs than those served at the Child's kiosks. His "dogs" burned terribly after walking miles through "The World of Tomorrow."