Red Snapper Hot Dogs | Maine’s Favorite Home-Grilled Hot Dog

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Known for their neon red color and natural casing “snap,” Maine’s Red Snapper hot dogs are a backyard barbecue and camp grill favorite.

red snapper hot dogs

Whether it’s from the ball game snack bar, roadside stand, or the grill in your own backyard, when the the weather warms up and it’s time to start eating outside again, few things feel as summery as a good hot dog. Like pizza, there are as many regional hot dog styles as there are ways for a Hollywood actor to mess up a Boston accent. Cross a state line, or in some cases even a town line, and you’ll find yourself in new hot dog territory, and New England is no different. Over the summer we’ll be exploring some of our regional ways with hot dogs, so grab a cold drink and get the grill ready!

One way to know for sure that you’ve crossed into Maine is when the hot dog display at the grocery store starts carrying packages of dogs that are a shocking, bright red. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Red Snapper hot dogs of Maine, a favorite mainstay at family barbecues and campsites all across Vacationland.

red hot dogs

Add a handful of chips and cold drink and you’ve got the perfect summer supper.

Aimee Seavey

These natural casing beef and pork franks earned the name “Red Snapper” because of their obvious color (just red dye) and the SNAP sound the natural casing makes when you bite into it. More of a “home BBQ” hot dog than a roadside dog, Red Snappers are jarring to look at, but plenty tasty to eat.

And of course, like all good New England hot dogs, they’re served in the traditional “top-loading” hot dog (or frankfurter) rolls, also popular for lobster rolls. Unlike the side-split (or “side-loading”) rolls common throughout the rest of the country, top-split rolls not only stand up better on a plate after the hot dog and toppings have been piled on, but its flat sides are ideal for buttering and toasting, either on a grill or in a frying pan. Of course, some folks will say they like theirs steamed rather than toasted, and that’s okay, too.

As a city apartment dweller, grilling is a pleasure I’ve yet to experience, so it’s stove-top toasted for now.

new england hot dog buns toasted

For many, all rolls must be buttered and toasted to be dog-ready.

Aimee Seavey

In Maine, Bangor-based W.A. Bean & Sons is the foremost Red Snapper brand. They’ve been making hot dogs since 1918 (“150 Years, 5 Generations, and 4 Million Hot Dogs Last Year” their Web site says), but once you venture further south you may only be able to find Kayem “Reds,” a Red Snapper-style dog made in Chelsea, MA. We hear there might be red hot dogs in a few other pockets of the southern USA, but around here, red dogs are as Maine as lobster and blueberries.

When the hot dogs are hot and ready, put them in the warm rolls and load on the toppings. Here, one hot dog is waiting for a simple squiggle of ketchup while the second gets dressed with traditional relish and a slug of Maine-made Raye’s “Down East Schooner” Mustard. A third (the melted cheese underneath hidden by the hot dog) has a few spoonfuls of sauteed mushrooms and onions. When it comes to hot dog toppings, the combinations (and opinions about the best combinations) are endless, and we embrace them all.

red snapper hot dogs mustard

Dressed down of loaded up, when it comes to hot dogs the topping combinations are endless.

Aimee Seavey

Lined up and ready, a plate of Red Snapper hot dogs is a Maine summer supper at its finest (that is, if you’re not in the mood for lobsters). Just add chips, potato salad, french fries, or anything else that’s a little greasy with an ice cold root beer, Moxie, or grape soda.

Do you love a good Red Snapper? Let us know!

  • I was born & grew up in Maine and always had red hot dogs, baked beans and brown bread every Saturday night. It was a standard and I loved them. Now live in FL and was surprised to see red hot dogs are not sold here. It was a very big disappointment. I order them on line now as I hate being without them. They are the best!!

  • One of the many things I miss from home are Red Snapper Hot Dogs!!! I searched high and low for anything like them, but they are definitely one of a kind. And far tastier than any other hot dog in existence!!!

  • Raymelle

    I am the beer chef in the Marshall Wharf Brewing Company Beer Store on Sunday’s and we do a beer brunch. We serve snappy reds all week but on Sunday’s we do a Benny dog with IPA hollandaise and a heart attack dog with Welsh Ratebit and bacon! Extreme yum!

  • I moved to Maine last year and these have become an unhealthy addiction lol. These would be sold as sausage in Europe and if hotdogs are chuck steaks to beef, these are filet mignons. The texture is about the same as hotdogs but the taste is entirely different, with none of the nasty fat aftertaste. I prefer the lamb casings but will eat pretty much any of these regardless hehe.

    I’ve seen pink hotdogs in Hawaii, the Philippines and Hong Kong but those taste like regular hotdogs, and they are fortified with calcium through milk powder while they taste much like regular hotdogs, maybe a little fattier.

    I made the mistake of boiling 8 of the snappers a few days ago so that I could eat them throughout the week. They lasted 2 days unfortunately and for me, the best way to cook them seems to cook as many as I will eat immediately as otherwise the fact that they are sitting in the fridge and waiting for me never leaves my mind until there are none left hehe..

  • Jordans are now made by Kayme. I’m not sure why Hannaford doesn’t carry them cause they sell Kayme. You can get them ate BJ’s and Walmart i know, maybe others. They are always my favorites. Bygone Maine brands. Kirschner, Cuddhey.

  • Phyllis you’ve said it right! That right there was one of the most popular suppah’s down at Pleasant Lake, Alexander Maine, during my childhood summers! Everything you said right down to the moxie and Humpty Dumpty bow chips!! Awesome!!

  • Janet

    I would like to know if these are the kind served at The Maine Diner. We love those and if they are it is nice time know I can purchase them up there.

  • Sheree

    i am so excited to find your store!!!! I am from Maine but live in Virginia now. Will definitely make an order for red snappers and rolls.

  • rebecca

    I have bought the buns at Krogers.here in Ohio. They are sold under the name New England style hot dog rolls/buns. I don’t remember if it is rolls or buns. They are not necessarily with the rest of the hot dog rolls.

  • They used to be made by Jordan’s in downtown Portland. I remember the theme song: “It’s delicious, delightful, have another bite-ful, hot dog, hot dog, it’s Jordan’s!”

  • I have never had a Red Snapper, possibly because I’m from New Hampshire (though for now, alas, I live in Illinois), but they sure look good. As do the New England-style buns, something I wish I could get here. I’d put my hot dogs in those if I could find them. But I do take issue with ketchup as a hot dog condiment. Ketchup is good on some things, but on hot dogs, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just wrong!

  • Phyllis

    Nothing better than a good red hot dog in a split top bun toasted, Humpty Dumpty BBQ chips and Moxie.


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