Lizzie Conklin

“It wasn’t just a bulldog hot dog. It was a bulldog home dog.”

In those two sentences, Joel Banks ’25 captures a common sentiment around the eighteen-month cultural sensation that was Bulldog Hotdogs. Remaining open into the wee hours of the night, the restaurant immediately became a fan favorite because of its delicious hot dogs, convenient hours and oddly intimate feel for a restaurant kiosk sandwiched—or dare I say, hotdogged—between Broadway and Elm.

Bulldog Hotdogs served as a sort of homage to the history of New Haven, the city famous for coining the very term “hot dog.” While frankfurters have perhaps lost some of their allure in recent years, the restaurant harkened back to days of yore when there was no snack more enticing than a fresh hot dog. 

When asked to comment regarding the store’s impact on their lives, several students explained that they could not fully recall any memories at Bulldog Hotdogs, a true testament to its legacy as a post-party snack spot. But those with lucid memories told tales of greatness.

“I only knew Bulldog Hotdogs for a short time, but in our few interactions, it meant so much to me,” John Colbert ’25 said. “I still remember a cold March night when, as I walked down Elm [Street], hungry for love, life, and especially a wet, hot, glizzy, I saw it glowing in the dark on that oasis of a median. Bulldog Hotdogs was a warm embrace.”

The New Haven late night snack scene can be ruthless, and the demise of Bulldog Hotdogs serves as evidence of this reality. Behemoths like Good Nature Market — more commonly known as GHeav —Est Est Est and Alpha Delta Pizza all have loyal fanbases of night owl munchers, not to mention Insomnia Cookies’ stranglehold on the post-midnight dessert industry.

 So why should we care about a little shop that only opened its doors in December of 2021 and was operational for less than 2,700 screenings of a Barbenheimer double feature?

Because Bulldog Hotdogs had the courage to dream. They had the courage to look at the New Haven foodscape and ask not “What do these students eat?” but instead to ask “What should these students eat?” The answer? Two simple words (or one word, according to  a 2014 study about the phonological planning of compound words), rooted in hometown history: hot dogs.

In a world where hot dogs get dragged into debates about whether they are sandwiches, tacos or in a food group entirely of their own, the folks at Bulldog Hotdogs remained above the fray. They put their heads down and served delicious food to their customers.

As Charlotte Townley ’24 explains, “The first time I went to Bulldog Hotdogs was for the bit, but then I fell in love. They gave me free fries, which they didn’t have to do, and there was the most amazing New Haven sunset. A girl couldn’t get any happier. In the following months, you could say a cult developed of Bulldog Hotdogs lovers.”

Although the shop was reviving a long-dormant New Haven culinary tradition, it was not stuck in the past. They catered to the modern mouth, offering vegan options as well as beef. While this drew ire from some purists — one user left a comment on the New Haven Independent’s article about the grand opening, saying “A vegan hot dog. God help us.” — the store remained steadfast in its commitment to serving hot dog lovers of all sorts. Hannah Szabo ’25 — a vegetarian herself — explains what the restaurant meant to her.

“Bulldog Hotdogs truly represented a confluence of multiple metaphorical rivers coinciding at a beautiful spot for a late night dog: Bulldog Hotdogs was not your average, everyday late night hot dog shop,” Szabo said. “Unlike competitors Brick Oven Pizza and Alpha Delta Pizza, it offered a variety of options. It included healthy things like lettuce or ketchup on your hot dog. Moreover, it was really important, as a vegetarian, that it existed… Only Bulldog Hotdogs made me feel like a respected member of the Yale community in the confluence of rivers that are streets in this metaphor.”

For students like Szabo, Townley, Colbert and Banks, Bulldog Hotdogs was not just another restaurant. It was unique. It was irreplaceable. For eighteen glorious months, the little shop that dared to dream looked like it was on the precipice of forcing a paradigm shift in New Haven’s nighttime snacks. 

And then, it all crashed down. New Haven, the home of the hot dog, forsook its own creation, and let the Bulldog Hotdogs disappear into oblivion. This piece dares not ask why or to examine if Ay! Arepa can fill the gaping hole left in the middle of Broadway’s median. It is a celebration of a simpler time, when hot dogs abounded and all was right with the world.

As Townley concludes, “What do I feel now that it’s gone? Nothing… For now. Bulldog Hotdogs wasn’t for the everyday [occasion]. It was for the blue moon. A special treat. But when that blue moon comes again, I’ll probably cry from its absence. Where else can a girl get a glizzy around this town? Nowhere.”

As for the hot dog, it will surely live on, even if not in New Haven. But, without Bulldog Hotdogs, that is all it will be: a hot dog, never a home dog. 

Andrew Cramer is a former sports editor, women's basketball beat reporter, and WKND personal columnist at the YDN. He still writes for the WKND and Sports sections. He is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College and is majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics.