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It Happens Here: Larry Joe's New England Fire Pit Brings Hot Dogs, History And Music To Mendon

MENDON (CBS) - Less than an hour from Boston, you can order an award-winning hot dog with some ties to history. And Larry Joe's New England Fire Pit in Mendon is much more than a food truck.

"It's an all brisket, finely ground, old fashion German recipe, natural casing hot dog," Larry Joe told WBZ-TV.

The half-pound hot dogs are basted in a special mix of apple sauce and brown sugar, then cooked to perfection over a hickory wood grill, all while Larry Joe plays the fire pit blues on a keyboard in the truck. It's an experience he describes as "showcase cooking."

"If you go to a food truck, there's a little tiny window and there's some people inside working hard and diligently to make your food, but you can't see it, you're not a part of it. Here you can see your food from beginning to end and nothing goes below the counter," Joe explained.

The dogs are so delicious, People magazine has named it the best tasting hot dog in the state.

"And that's why we call this a paradigm shifting hot dog, 'cause as soon as you bite into it you realize you're on different turf. You're in different territory," Joe said.

"It came out of the White House in 1939 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt served hot dogs to the King and Queen of England and all the cooks in the White House of April of that year were Southern descendant, slave descendant men, Black men and they know how to make food taste good 'cause we've been barbequing and cooking cheap meat for a long time. Take those processes and put them on some good meat, Oh my God, this is what you get."

Larry Joe
Larry Joe outside his New England Fire Pit food truck in Mendon. (WBZ-TV)

If you're wondering how Larry Joe got his hands on the presidential recipe, he says former White House cooks went on to work on transcontinental trains serving meals to first class passengers. Those cooks shared the recipe with a young Framingham man named Ezra Anderson who worked on board the train as a porter.

Anderson sold hot dogs successfully in Newmarket Square for years and passed the recipe down to Larry Joe before he died in 2015.

"He learned directly from cooks in the White House. They told him this is how we make hot dogs for the president," Joe recalled.

But people don't just come for the hot dogs, they come for a good time and to see the man who makes them.

"He has fanatical fans. We really love to come and get the hot dogs and be here and hang out with Larry Joe. He makes the whole thing really," said Andrew Bennett, a Larry Joe fanatic.

"It's hard not to get a big old hot dog with everything on it and shove it in your face. They are huge, like as big as your head," fan Cindy Miller told WBZ. Miller and her ukulele band The Unlikely Strummers even wrote a song about how much they love the firepit hot dogs.

hot dog
A hot dog from Larry Joe's in Mendon. (WBZ-TV)

"That is one of my favorite parts, watching the people smile. Just saying the word 'hot dog,' people are thinking about having a good time. So, people come when they're already happy and they bring that energy or when they're feeling like they wanna be happy," said Joe.

Larry Joe's New England Fire Pit is located at 30 Cape Road in Mendon. For more information, visit their website.

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