The Battle Between Two Hot Dog Joints: Hot Diggity and Underdogs

We ate 10 hot dogs from Hot Diggity and Underdogs in one night. (Shout out to Pepto!) Both joints brought it; one reigned supreme.

By Brian Freedman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 24 | Posted May. 2, 2012

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Sausage party: Hot Diggity’s Fiesta Dog.

I’m generally not the kind of guy to channel my inner Kobayashi. I have immense respect for the hot-dog-eating legend, and I’ve spent countless Independence Day weekends marveling at his hummingbird metabolism and astounding ability to power through what must be a feat as physically demanding as the fridge carry in the old World’s Strongest Man competitions.

Which is why a jolt of fear ran up my spine and down my colon when my editor suggested conducting a hot dog throwdown, comparing similarly themed dogs, between Underdogs (132 S. 17th St. 215.665.8080. and Hot Diggity (630 South St. 267.886.9253.

So I called my friend Martin, the greatest carnivore I’ve ever known, and we set out on our mission. One night. Ten hot dogs. And plenty of Pepto the next day. Here’s how they compare.


Underdogs: Random wrappers and assorted schmutz on the floors and the occasional table. Not bad, but not spotless, either.

Hot Diggity: Considering the Vesuvius of toppings on offer, the space here was remarkably tidy.

Advantage: Hot Diggity.


Underdogs: Outgoing and went out of their way to help, cutting our dogs in half and making it a nicely personal experience.

Hot Diggity: Friendly, but more reserved.

Advantage: Underdogs.


Underdogs: Flavorful, but a bit too oily. The occasional crispy thin fry was excellent, and the selection of dipping sauces was wide and tasty, but the fries themselves could have been crispier.

Hot Diggity: Rectangular batons, dense inside and crunchy outside. Textbook.

Advantage: Hot Diggity.

Chicago-style Dog

Underdogs: The “Chicago Style,” with its dill pickle, relish, tomato, chopped onions and yellow mustard, was a winner. The generous addition of celery salt really brightened things up, lending this Ditka-worthy dog a sense of unexpected lightness.

Hot Diggity: “The Windy City” was a great dog, similarly conceived as Underdogs’ version. But the use of “electric green relish” lost me—it seemed to be at odds with the flavor of the pickle spears.

Advantage: Underdogs.

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Comments 1 - 24 of 24
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1. mazza313 said... on May 2, 2012 at 11:02AM

“ok, i hate to be this person - but the electric green relish on hot diggity's chicago dog is actually the real deal. that is exactly what they use there, and in this circumstance, underdogs should have penalized for not using it. BUT, if hot diggity didn't use the celery salt, then they lose points too.”

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2. paige said... on May 2, 2012 at 12:01PM

“hot diggity is the best by a long shot. for the food, for the staff, for the atmosphere, everything. hot diggity, you rock.”

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3. carlson1105 said... on May 2, 2012 at 12:29PM

“Had the Underdogs Chicago, was not authentic at all. The relish is supposed to be electric green. They used peperoncini instead of sport peppers, and no sign of the required poppyseed roll. Mine didn't come with any celery salt.”

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4. Anonymous said... on May 2, 2012 at 02:02PM

“Hot diggity uses electric relish AND celery salt. It's awesome!”

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5. Anonymous said... on May 2, 2012 at 04:04PM

“Neither of them use sport peppers or the poppyseed bun for the Chicago dog. You will have to go to Sonic for that. I love Hit Diggity despite the fact that I don't like the actual hot dogs they use, which are natural casing, but just taste wrong to me. I would prefer a classic pork-veal-beef natural casing dog (Vienna style flrank)”

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6. Anonymous said... on May 2, 2012 at 04:21PM

“Start with the DOG. toppings etc are secondary. Some dogs are better with some toppings then others. BUT start with the DOG”

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7. Anonymous said... on May 2, 2012 at 04:52PM

“Hmmm.... the Chicago dog I had at Underdogs seemed to have sport peppers. I thought it was excellent.”

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8. Mrs Canadia said... on May 2, 2012 at 04:56PM

“My vast hot dog experience lends me to believe that East Coast dogs cheap out on their wieners. For those of you who don't believe me, try Japadog in NYC (which originated in Vancouver, the little-known hot dog capital of N. America) and you will never want to eat Philly's wimpy wieners again.”

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9. Philly OldHead said... on May 2, 2012 at 05:01PM

“Those specialty hot dog shops are overpriced bullshit. Ain't nothing like a hot dog with mustard and cooked onions off a street vendor, period....”

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10. James said... on May 2, 2012 at 05:17PM

“I agree that Hot Diggity is putting out better product, but you should have at least acknowledged that their dogs are $6 or $7 to Underdogs' $3 or $4. The fact that I can walk out of Underdogs with a dog, fries, and soda for less than just a dog at Hot Diggity makes them the winner in my book.”

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11. Morgans said... on May 2, 2012 at 05:18PM

“I agree with Philly old head. Dogs from the vendors are the best. I will also add
That there is nothing like a hot dog at a baseball game, in the sun. With a beer in hand.”

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12. todd said... on May 2, 2012 at 05:50PM

“not even diggity is the bomb. we make the trip from king of prussia at least 2x a month, solely for their hot dogs.”

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13. John Fox said... on May 2, 2012 at 06:11PM

“How about a comparison with just the franks and maybe some mustard? All these toppings are unneccesary and many true hot dog connoiseurs feel they mask the flavor of the actual frank, which is what the focus should be on. Typical article about hot dogs that you see today that emphasizes the annoying "haute dog" trend and it's fascination with secondary factors like toppings and cute nicknames. How about giving the brand or source of the franks? How are they prepared? In water, on a grill. Are they all beef? Beef/pork? Casing or skinless? Much more important than what is written about in this article.

If you don't start with a quality dog, it doesn't matter what you do to it or throw on it. I'll do your homework for you. Hot Diggety uses a spicy natural casing Sabrett all beef frank that is prepared on a griddle. Underdogs serves a skinless milder all beef Dietz and Watson and heats it in water. Check out Hot Dog Nation on Facebook to learn more about hot dogs.”

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14. The Big Paesano said... on May 2, 2012 at 07:30PM

“Why do these Brooklyn hipster types insist on coming to Philly and peddle "Chicago" or "NYC" type hot dogs? At the very least, they should give a nod to local culture by adding a fish cake combo or add pepper cash as a condiment.”

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15. two pack shaker said... on May 2, 2012 at 08:09PM

“@big paesano

hot diggity does in fact have a fishcake dog. try call it the Philly surf and turf and they make it from scratch. they also carry champ cherry so you can get your levis' combo like you used to be able to back in the day”

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16. Brian McManus said... on May 3, 2012 at 08:42AM

“@John Fox. Would you like to be our official hot dog correspondent? Serious.”

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17. Anonymous said... on May 3, 2012 at 09:51AM

“Maui Dog at the bellevue beats both of these places. But i do love the fries at hot diggity”

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18. John Fox said... on May 3, 2012 at 02:03PM

“@Brian McManus. I'm from N.J. and run the Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour with my buddy. We limit it to 2 busloads of people from all over the country. We've had people from Canada, Ireland, and this year Australia attend. I have a lot of experience sampling hot dogs. I've been on TV many times and have been the subject of a feature article in the New York Times. I will be in the upcoming book Man Bites Dog. Also in the Great American Hot Dog Book. Contact me at”

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19. DLP Dog said... on May 4, 2012 at 08:34AM

“"If it weren’t for the rubbery, tasteless cheese on top"---you got that right. I had the plain cheese dog at Underdog---Cheese was awful and dog was fair at best. The review should also talk about the dogs themselves. The ones at Underdog are Under-whelming. Give me a nice garlicky Nathan's, Hebrew National or Sabbratt from the grill any day over what they serve up at UD. Will have to try Hot Diggity.”

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20. Anonymous said... on May 4, 2012 at 09:03AM

“hot diggity is slightly better in taste and cleanliness, but i'm surprised that the price point wasn't mentioned. they really gouge you there for a hot dog, fries, and a drink.”

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21. Anonymous said... on May 6, 2012 at 07:48AM

“Agree that the hot dog itself should be the focal point of the review. I always enjoy Texas Weiners on Snyder Ave. in S.Philly”

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22. jason f. said... on May 12, 2012 at 07:25PM

“This is the best review Brian Freedman has ever done, and that is pathetic. The high point of a restaurants critics career should not be a review of hot dogs. This pretentious a-hole needs to find another career.”

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23. John Fox said... on May 13, 2012 at 06:11AM

“I'm not a restaurant critic but I do review hot dogs. Brian seems to write well but anyone reviewing a particular food should have at least a minimum amount of knowledge about that food or at the very least give some important information. He left out what people who are serious about hot dogs look for. The type of frank (all beef or beef/pork), whether it is skinless or has a casing, size, source, and how it's prepared. Instead he focused on secondary things like the cute nicknames and topping combinations. Sadly this is common when people who know little about hot dogs are asked to review them.”

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24. hkrall said... on May 13, 2012 at 12:49PM

Hot Diggity and Underdogs BOTH serve fish cakes as well as pepper hash, mentioned on page 2 of this very article.

@Mrs Canadia
I've been to Diggity as well as Japadog in NYC. Japadod's pork Aribiki sausages are good but their standard all-beef dog is skinless, and in my opinion inferior to Hot Diggity's natural casing Sabrett's dog.

@JohnFox @BrianMcManus
If the famous John Fox starts writing for PW I'm ready to start drawing anytime.......”


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