The thing about Wasses Hot Dogs in Rockland, that you’ll never gain an understanding of from reading a review, is that smell. On warm days, the scent of grilling onions permeates the whole neighborhood, from the ferry terminal to the South, to the Cumberland Farms around the corner to the north. It crawls in through your air conditioning vents, it gets in your hair, and it gets under your skin. And it is heavenly.
The secret of Wasses’ 30-year success? It’s peanut oil. It’s frying every living thing you can think of in peanut oil. They use exceptionally high-quality links, with a satisfying snap to the casing, and nestle them in traditional New England split-side steamed buns. A sign clearly explains that asking for a hot dog with “everything” only gets you mustard and grilled onions, forcing you to somewhat painfully order your dogs with “everything and ketchup.” Next time, we want to try them plain, with no toppings, as they are delicious enough, we think, to stand on their own. If bareback hot dogs aren’t your thing, I am also a fairly recent convert to the “Western Dog,” which tops a hot dog with bacon, grilled onions, ketchup, and a heap of baked beans. It’s like a bean supper on a bun, and it is remarkable.
The fries are safe to skip; they are unremarkable frozen krinkle-cuts, and besides, fries just take up space that could be otherwise occupied by another hot dog. A better pairing is with a tiny carton of Oakhurst Dairy chocolate milk, or a homemade Rice Krispie treat.
At around two dollars per hot dog, Wasses represents a great value for anyone passing through the Midcoast. Have a lobster, certainly, but make sure to leave time to stop and infuse the inside of your car with that Wasses smell the next time you are passing through Rockland. Try them once, and you’ll have a friend for life.