Slide the hot dogs down the middle or “butterfly” them. Cook on the grill. Cook the bacon, warm up your hot dog buns, and assemble!
Way back in the day, South Fraser Way was a mostly deserted stretch of road connecting Clearbrook’s Funk’s Grocery store (now Lordco Auto Parts) and downtown Abbotsford’s Goslings (now Mad Dog’s), our family’s Friday night stops. At the current Clearbrook Town Square site, situated almost precisely mid-way, was a driving range, and right across the road was the iconic A&W drive-in. A mighty cheer would go up in our Gladwin Road home when Dad consented to take us out for a Sunday treat. We’d pile into the family sedan and hope for a parking spot in the front row, under the bright lights. Once we had decided on our order, Dad would flick on the car headlights, signalling the “car-hop” that we were ready to order. Mama Burgers, milkshakes and french fries were foreign and exotic foods in our immigrant family, and the excitement of seeing her arrive minutes after with a tray laden with paper-wrapped foods was intoxicating. She’d carefully place the overloaded tray on Dad’s half-rolled-down window, and he would pass out the treats. The trick was juggling the food, drinks, and condiments on your lap without making a mess while quarrelling with your siblings for more elbow room.
A&W has reimagined themselves many times since their opening as Canada’s first freestanding drive-in in 1956. Sadly, along with the demise of the drive-ins and car-hops, went the iconic Whistle Dog. The Whistle Dog was Farmer Rob’s favourite A&W treat, along with the frosty Root Beer and crispy onion rings. Many of our dates ended up at the A&W drive-in. Thankfully our marriage has lasted longer than the Whistle Dog, and it’s also easy to recreate the Whistle Dog at home. This Canadian treat is simple but has a few specific rules. The wiener needs to be sliced down the middle or “butterflied” if you want to get fancy. Not only does this ensure it will grill quickly and evenly, but you end up with a larger crispy surface area for the toppings. The only acceptable toppings are sweet green relish, fried bacon, grated Cheddar cheese and diced white onion. Lastly, don’t forget to grill the bun and never, ever attempt to fool a Whistle Dog lover with a red relish.