100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die – Chili Dog at Mrs. Story’s
Tasty Tuesday, A Chili Dog at Mrs. Story’s in Opelika is my #97th dish on my quest to eat all of the 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die. #3 if I am counting down to zero.
Getting so close to my goal of 100 dishes, I aimed to choose something really gourmet, uber chic, the most Instagram-able food. But, driving back to Alabama from the Carolinas, a monster storm was making for unsafe driving conditions.
I stopped in Opelika, Alabama for a chic chilidog.
Life happens. Here it is Tasty Tuesday that happens to fall on this July the 4th holiday. What could be more American than a hot dog? Karma.
Hot dogs are not the healthiest of foods, I swore off of them years ago. But, I actually do like them. Plus, you know, I am from Wisconsin, home to Oscar Mayer and Hillshire Farms, and the state that has held the largest German population in the United States; sausages galore. I grew up near a family-run meat market that sells German meats including pure beef dogs with natural casings. I can easily say that I grew spoiled with these dogs. Now, everyone once in a while, I crave them. Tofu dogs just don’t do it for me.
Being that I am not originally from the state of Alabama, I do not have nostalgia for local Alabama restaurants. However, I would think that this stop and story would resonate (as it did with me) with the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers, children of the pre-40’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, where hot dogs were a treat at the ballpark and the drive-in restaurants. It reminds me of the Dairy Queen in my hometown, right down to the service window. Or, the A&W’s of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, like the one that I once worked at.
Mrs. Story’s is nostalgic like that. From the service window of their small building, the customers watch the staff create your dog and concoct ice cream treats. The menu is simple, chili dogs, potato chips, milkshakes, ice cream cones, sundaes and banana splits.
How could the younger generations not like this place? Every town should have one?
At Mrs. Story’s, the chili dogs come as a foot long unless you order them short. Since 1952, the beef and pork hot dogs are served with ketchup and mustard unless you order them otherwise. Onions are available upon request.
After 1976, cheese and slaw were added to their menu. The cost for the chili dog is $2.51 or $4.14 for the Super Dog. According to chopped onion.com, 80% of the dogs ordered are chilidogs and the rest are Super Dogs (chili, cheese, and slaw.) 
I ordered the traditional chili dog and a shake, (which may show up next week as a winner of the 100.) I planned to taste it and then decide if I would eat the whole thing. When I looked at it, I did not find the usual spicy chili sauce with beans. It was more of a bland mixture of hamburger, mustard, and ketchup. I chowed it down, just to be certain. *Not my best photo!
It was pretty darn good. In fact, it got me to thinking about how chilidogs would have been made in the 1940’s and 50’s. I could not find the recipe, the topping made me curious. *See MEGathoughts with the/a recipe below.
MEGastars 3 *** for serving a unique recipe ie something that you cannot easily find across the U.S.A. Served with Alabama pride as this family is now on their fifth generation of ownership.
- Have a larger appetite? Go for the footlong and add slaw, cheese, and onions to your liking.
- About 10 minutes off of I-85, it is an easy stop.
- Although they do not have a website, the do have a Facebook page.
- I can not verify these hours, call before you leave home. Closed on Sunday, the hours are-Open Mon-Wed 10am-9pm and Thurs-Sat 10am-10pm. Adress: 1900 Pepperell Pkwy. Opelika, AL 36801 (334) 749-1719
- DO get a shake. On the day that I visited, they were serving banana and other specialties.
**Disclaimer, there are people who actually have a Ph.D. in Hot Dog history, and I am not one of them. The following recipes could be close or perhaps way off. However, this is where I would start. Although I was unable to find a specific recipe for this secret Mrs. Story’s, my educated guess leads me in this direction.
From the history of Mrs. Story’s, Mr. and Mrs. Story visited a sister in New Mexico in 1950 and saw a Dairy Delite. The Story’s bought their Alabama franchise in 1952. I was unable to learn very much about this franchise except that there are a few random restaurants remaining and message boards of folks trying to find this chili dog recipe. I am guessing that Dairy Delite was similar to Dairy Queen, without the larger franchise. In fact, the Story family dropped their Dair Delite franchise and forward, they were known as Mrs. Story’s.
I learned that the chili dog is a bit complicated. It was a bit regional, influenced by Industrialization and ethnic groups. There is the Greek Style Chilidog, West Virginia style Chilidog, and the Michigan or Flint style Chilidog. This is a great read on who, what, when, and where’s of the chilidog. The Atlantic – Story by Christine Olson
Mrs. Story’s Knockoff Recipe
Because I found Mrs. Story’s taste to be more of an old-school bland hamburger recipe, I conclude that it is likely something like the following, which is from an old Parish cookbook that I own with a few subtle changes.
To note: Possible variations are made with ketchup, white vinegar, tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar and other ingredients. Some people cook brown their beef while others find this sacrilegious. See Pinterest or All recipes for old-style chilidog recipes.
Meg’s Mrs. Story Knockoff Chilidog Recipe
- 1- ½ lbs hamburger
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- (may add 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of paprika)
- 1- 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- 3-4 cups of water, just to cover the meat mixture. (you may use beef broth.) *I saw one recipe that used Coca Cola.
- good quality hot dogs (or not.) Mrs. Story’s uses a pork-beef blend.
- white pillowy soft hotdog buns.
Put ground beef into a Dutch oven over medium heat, stir in the water, and mash ground beef. Use a potato masher or a tool such as the one from Pampered Chef to get the meat very fine. I would simmer on low for 60-90 minutes and add water if needed. Cook until the water is absorbed. I would think that this recipe could easily be made in a crock pot.
*to note, in this Mrs. Story’s Youtube video, they use the word brown the meat. It is possible that they actually brown the meat or they mean, the meat will turn to a brown as it cooks. Try both methods. Here is a quick video on Mrs. Story’s and their secret chili dog sauce. A story about Mrs. Story’s and the chili dogs
Put the hot dogs in a pan with a few inches of water. When they are just about heated through, use a steamer pot on top of the hot dogs for your hot dog buns, and you will have a perfect steamed bun. (you don’t want them soggy-yuck!) Or, you can place them in waxed paper and nuke for 10 seconds depending on your microwave.
To put together your perfect Mrs. Story knock-off, place the hot dog in the bun. Add a strip of ketchup and a strip of mustard. Top with cheese, coleslaw, onions to your delight. This would be great as a large batch for your next July 4th shindig.
 O.A.NOW.com by Lindy Oller O.A.now
This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each post. If you are new to my 100 Dishes in Alabama escapade, this may be helpful information.
ABOUT: *100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die,” is a compilation of food to chow down on “Bama style.” Thanks to Tourism Alabama, www.alabama.travel my Alabama bucket list just became a little easier. I am going to have some food fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home. From the little old diner to the white cloth setting, this journey is an opportunity for me to explore my new state and experience pride in food from restaurateurs who are dedicated to local food, with some Alabama style. From the local BBQ smoker to James Beard recipients, you too will take a culinary trip across scenic and historical Alabama. From this list, I select stops based upon convenience of location and they are in no particular order (but I already have a few favorites.) Perhaps when I finish this list, I will rank my favorite dishes. You too may pick up the brochure at Alabama Tourism stops or download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbeville and ends in York.
I use a 5 MEGastar system. For the most part, I am traveling a distance to try these dishes and these places get one shot at how I view the food and experience. I will not be taking an average of three visit experiences and I factor this in when I give my star rating. That said, I’m very easy to please, I can overlook quite a bit and have worked in the food service industry. I am not a paid food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods and sharing my two cents on the experience. I try to follow my own star system so that I may be fair to the wonderful dishes on this list.
- *meh food. Just wasn’t good. Maybe the food came from a can? or, the place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in Alabama. This has happened to me a few times and is a difficult write.
- ** passable – the food was “ok” but the place was not “ok” or vice versa.
- *** good but not outstanding or unique.
- **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Alabama Foods/Tourism, of local food and/or truly highlights Alabama Pride.
- ***** I actually died, went to heaven and came back when I ate the dish. And/Or, something is very unique, something you cannot get anywhere else.