People have been known to travel for hundreds of miles, deep into rural Curry County, to try a delicacy that can only be found here in Langlois, Oregon: a hot dog.
But it’s no ordinary dog. The town’s only grocery, the Langlois Market, says its house-made sweet mustard and specially peeled frankfurters are what make their dogs “world famous.”
For more than 40 years, the hot dog has been the star of the Langlois Market, where it’s featured on branded hats, T-shirts and bumper stickers. Employee McKayla Self-Blethen said the store sells hundreds of hot dogs daily.
“It’s about 175 hot dogs per box,” Self-Blethen said, “and we go through multiple boxes a day, even in the slow season. In the summertime, we probably go through between five and eight boxes a day.”
This is all the more impressive when you realize one box contains as many hot dogs as there are residents of Langlois.
The origins of the famous Langlois hot dog date back to 1981. At the time, Langlois – located between Bandon and Port Orford on the southern Oregon coast – was home to a sawmill that employed about 30 workers.
“We had a delivery guy that brought pre-made sandwiches, and we sold them to the mill guys, and he quit his route,” said the market’s former owner, Leland Pestana. “We didn’t know what we were going to do. And my mother-in-law said, ‘Hey, why don’t you start selling a hot dog? Because people love my mustard at the Fourth of July picnics.’ And everybody liked the hot dogs better than the sandwiches.”
In fact, the Langlois hot dogs outlasted the town’s sawmill, which closed in the 1990s.
Today, Leland’s son, Jake Pestana, runs the store, and he estimates his family has sold “well over 1.5 million” hot dogs through the decades. It was Jake who leaned into the corniness of it all, adding a “hot dog” sales counter to the market’s website and branding the meal as “world famous.”
The “world famous” descriptor is a bit of a running gag in the community of Langlois (which locals pronounce either as “Lang-less” or “Lang-loyce.”) The story goes that in 2014, community members were trying to get the speed limit along U.S. 101 lowered through town. But the Oregon Department of Transportation questioned whether tiny Langlois had enough of what they called “roadside culture” to encourage drivers to slow down.
So, a committee of locals decided to drum up some “roadside culture,” and they installed signs along the highway that read “Welcome to World Famous Langlois.” Surely that would get drivers’ attention.
The famous hot dogs are just one more reason to stop in Langlois. The dogs themselves come from Hill’s Meat Company, a family-owned farm in Pendleton that processes a special run of frankfurters exclusively for the Langlois Market so they’re easier to peel off the casings. Peeling the dogs prevents them from getting a tough exterior while on the rotisserie.
“We had a gal who worked here for over 10 years, and she was our fastest hot dog peeler,” Jake Pestana said. “I bet she might have peeled a half-million hot dogs.”
The classic way to order a Langlois dog is with pickles, diced sweet onions and the family-recipe house mustard, which is so popular the market started selling it by the tub.
“It’s mustard powder, sugar, vinegar and eggs,” Leland Pestana said. “That’s it. We don’t tell the people what proportions there are, but people have the recipe.”
Nate Radcliffe, a part-time employee and seemingly full-time hype man for the Langlois Market, is a big fan.
“The hot dog is a good dog, and the mustard kicks it up to the all-pro level that it is,” he said.
Over the years, the dogs’ popularity has primarily spread by word of mouth.
“Our favorite brand of advertising is the person that’s pumping gas in Roseburg that is talking to somebody who is coming over to Langlois,” Radcliffe said. “Or it’ll be somebody you’re sitting next to on your Horizon puddle jumper from Seattle to Coos Bay that says, ‘Oh, do you know about the Langlois Hot Dog?’
“It’s the three guys that come up on their Harley Davidsons from Crescent City specifically to ride their bikes three hours, and their stopping point is the market to get a super dog and just spend time with each other.
“It’s the person that comes in and says, ‘I came in here when I was a kid with my granddad, and I totally remember the Langlois hot dog.’”
For many years, a hot dog was just 99 cents. Today, you can still enjoy a Langlois dog for the reasonable, inflation-adjusted cost of $3.75.
Next year, Jake Pestana is looking to expand his store and capitalize on his hot dogs’ popularity by opening the Langlois Market Annex in an adjacent building. The spot will be open in the evenings and offer seating for those who want to enjoy their hot dogs on site.
And the massive, wood-carved statue of a hot dog he’s planning to install outside the new place? Now, that’s roadside culture.
Langlois’ “world famous hot dogs” can be found at Langlois Market, open daily at 48444 U.S. 101, Langlois. langloismarket.com
-- Samantha Swindler, firstname.lastname@example.org, @editorswindler