There seems to be a small but loyal geographic following of the "Italian Hot Dog".

It was reportedly invented by James "Jimmy Buff" Racioppi in Newark in 1932. For people from Essex, Union, Hudson and Middlesex Counties, it's a staple of their food lexicon. Some of it's reincarnations have spread as far south as Tom's River.

No, it's not Italian sausage. It's a hot dog, preferably two, deep fried, with deep fried potatoes, peppers and onions with mustard and ketchup in a big-ass roll called pizza bread made by Calandra's Bakery in Newark.

I had my first "real one" this week at Dickie Dee's on Bloomfield Avenue in Nork (aka Newark). There are other well regarded places by aficionados like Charlie's in Union, Little Nicky's in South Plainfield, Joe Joe's in Toms River and Jimmy Buff's in West Orange.

Everybody has their favorite. I've only had Dickie Dee's and I don't think I'll eat again for another week! Delicious, filling and uniquely Jersey!

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