Making a red hot Red Hot

Fenway Franks. Chicago-style. Schultz Hot Dogs. Now you can add Shields Provisions Natural Casing Frankfurters to that pantheon of hot dogdom.

Seacoast locals loved the Schultz hot dog until a fire in 1990 destroyed the factory. The line was sold several times and eventually discontinued earlier this year.

Enter Ken Bettcher and Kevin Philbrick, who have partnered with Kennebunk, Maine-based Shields Meat and Produce to produce the Shield Frankfurter. Their goal is not so much to resurrect the Schultz dog as much as create something new, but of the same memorable quality.

“When they stopped making the Schultz dog, there was a big void,” said Bettcher. “People were looking for it and were upset that delis no longer carried it. I even heard one man cried when he found out the Schultz dog was no longer available.”

So Bettcher and Philbrick, along with Shields owners Greg Dean and David Shields, worked to fill that void.

“The original Schultz hot dog was an extremely good product. The later product was really substandard. We wanted to make something equal in quality to the original Schultz dog, but different, creating something to our tastes,” said Bettcher.

Bettcher ought to know what a good frank tastes like. His father and his uncle Carl Schultz (Bettcher’s mother and Schultz’s wife were sisters), started New Hampshire Provision Company and created the original Schultz hot dog.

After working with Philbrick and the Shields family for about eight months, Bettcher said he believes they have a wiener, or rather a winner, on their hands.

“Our frank has beef, pork and veal, which makes for a juicier frank. We also use natural smoke to flavor them,” he said.

While a hot dog does not necessarily top most people’s lists of health food, the Shields dog fits quite comfortably into a decent meal plan. At 130 calories, 10 grams of fat and 1 gram of carbohydrate, you could do a lot worse with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“The recipe we created tastes great, and we have had wonderful feedback,” Bettcher added.

And just how does Bettcher like his Shields dog? “I love it steamed with mustard, onion and relish. My wife loves them grilled.”

Shields Provisions Natural Casing Frankfurters are available at Gilley’s Diner in Portsmouth and at several meat markets on the Seacoast. They should be available at Hannaford’s grocery stores across the state within the next few weeks. Bettcher also is working to expand distribution to the Shaw’s, Market Basket and Stop & Shop supermarket chains and BJ’s Wholesale Club. – CK

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