Cross-Posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Why yes, there are two "Grippers" in that photo
I was just leaving Edmonton after the Dairy Farmers Symposium (yes, I know I still owe you an entry about that!) and meeting Chelsey when I got a text message (via Twitter) from a mutual online friend of Chelsey and I - Dr. Yoni Freedhoff.
Dr. Freedhoff is the medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, which specializes in obesity (bariatric) medicine and weight management. Dr. Freedhoff is probably one of the most outspoken medical professionals in Canada, and he is often calling out misleading information and faulty policies by the government, health-related associations (you may remember him from such fun times as the whole Dietitians of Canada and calories on menu boards debacle), the food industry, and others in his blog, Weighty Matters.
In his message, Dr. Freedhoff told me that he'd found out about a "frankenfood" in Calgary and wanted me to take photos of it for his blog. Of course, that was reinterpreted in my mind as a challenge to eat it.
The "frankenfood" in question was Sherm's Ultimate Gripper, one of the many hot dogs at Tubby Dog. On the menu, the hot dog (which is Tubby Dog's most expensive at $9.50) is described as follows:
dog is bacon wrapped then deep fried! topped with ham, homemade chili, cheese, mustard, bacon, hot peppers, onions, and a fried eggFor some reason, all of this sounded reasonable to me except for the fried egg. Still, I accepted the challenge though I did postpone it by a week because of Thanksgiving, and there's only so much gluttony you can engage in over a weekend.
I didn't want to do this alone, so I asked my cousin Kevin if he wanted to partake as well. Of course, he was up for the challenge - he did, after all, help make a turducken last week, and him and his friends used to make up ridiculous food challenges back in their university days, like how many Timbits they could eat in an hour, how many donuts they could eat in two hours, who could drink 4L of milk in an hour, how much Gatorade they could drink in an hour... in fact, leading up to the challenge he was convinced that he could eat two Sherm's Ultimate Grippers, but decided to just order one to start just in case he was underestimating the power of the Gripper.
We slipped into Tubby Dog on a Sunday afternoon, and unlike Friday and Saturday nights there, it was brightly lit and fairly quiet (though people started trickle in not long after we ordered). The guy behind the counter was completely casual when my cousin said, "I'll take a Sherm's Ultimate Gripper," and I chimed in with, "...and I'll have one too." Clearly people do this "challenge" quite often.
It took a bit longer than I expected for them to get our dogs ready, but they did have to deep fry our hot dogs (causing the whole restaurant to smell like hot oil for about a minute or so) and pan-fry our ham and eggs. This gave us time to catch up a little bit and also to soak in the quirky, kitschy decor - the entire restaurant is done in bright red and yellow, and framed posters, photos and t-shirts hang crooked on the wall. There's a corner with pinball machines and other arcade games, a wall with black-and-white short films being projected onto it, and two tall clear shelves of vintage canned foods.
Soon, the hot dogs were ready, and we were ready too.
The hot dogs were piled high with toppings and drizzled with cheese sauce and came in a little cardboard tray. It was hard to know where to start, and the plastic forks and knives that were provided to us were barely enough to do the job. I started by cutting off little sections here and there, and soon I was well on my way.
The Gripper was not as heavy as I thought it would be - while there were a lot of toppings, I had originally envisioned a tray that was more chili and cheese than actual hot dog, and then once you broke the egg yolk, that would spill over everything as well. The amount for each topping was "reasonable" so that the whole thing wasn't too heavy or messy and none of the flavours overwhelmed the others. They just melded. My favourite part was definitely the chili, which lined the big, fluffy white bun - the chili was thick (unlike the soupy stuff you find at fast food places) and you could really taste the cumin and chili powder in it. The fried egg wasn't that bad either, since the yolk was semi-solid and so again, wasn't messy, and combined with the ham and the hot dog, it reminded me a little bit of breakfast. My least favourite part was probably the cheese sauce (tasted way processed, but fortunately there wasn't too much of it) and the banana peppers, but the latter is probably just personal preference and the flavour contrast it added with its spiciness and sourness was generally welcome.
We finished our hot dogs and my cousin was still hungry, so we got a half-order of yam fries, which were HUGE (unfortunately my cousin's arm is covering most of it in the photo). The yam fries were more like yam chips and they salted them way too much, which overwhelmed the sweet earthiness which usually makes yam/sweet potato fries so awesome.
The challenge was fun, and my cousin is confident that he could eat two in one sitting, or maybe even three or four if he really tried. The hot dog was pretty good, but with all the buildup of it as a "Frankenfood" and a "challenge", it wasn't particularly heavy and gross, nor was it remarkably tasty, either. Though I had a pretty good experience at Tubby Dog, knowing how bad the food is for me (I don't know an exact calorie count, but given that according to Canadian Nutrient File, a regular chili dog is about 300 calories, I wouldn't be surprised if Sherm's Ultimate Gripper was double that, if not more (I'm guessing it's closer to 800), and probably has about a day or two worth of sodium (the half-order of yam fries probably added another day as well).) With a menu full of similarly greasy dogs, I probably won't be heading back to Tubby Dog any time soon, let alone order another Gripper!
103 1022 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2T 0A5
Open Sun-Thu 11:30 AM-Late, Fri-Sat 11:30 AM-1 AM (Restaurant Service), 1 AM-4 AM (Window Service).