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Original Kasper's: The Hot Dog Stand That Saved a Neighborhood

Hot dogs are a classic American food. But when is a hot dog more than just a hot dog? When it's a neighborhood mainstay, through years of change.

2003 / Peter Thomson / Soundprint, USA

Hot dogs are a classic American food. But when is a hot dog more than just a hot dog? When it's a neighborhood mainstay, through years of change.

As Oakland's Temescal district suffered through decades of decay and halting recovery, Kasper's Hot Dogs stayed rooted on Telegraph Avenue as an anchor for its community and a gravitational force for its customers. Since the stand opened in 1929, three generations of an Armenian immigrant family have served up friendship, compassion and a commitment to their community along with some of the tastiest and most artful hot dogs served anywhere.


produced by

Peter Thomson

Peter Thomson is a failed housepainter and waiter who is forever grateful and amazed that there is a field known as journalism through which he can channel his idle wandering, undisciplined curiosity, and penchant for making glib observations into a more-or-less respectable living. His work over the last 15 years or so has focused largely on the relationship between people and their natural and built environment, primarily through the vehicle of NPR's Living on Earth. Ten years later he took advantage of a large hole being blown in his life by grabbing his younger brother and jumping a series of trains and boats for Alaska, Japan, Siberia, Lake Baikal, and points ever farther west until they once again found themselves back in Boston, after which, not knowing what else to do, he blithely decided to try to write a book about the journey. The result of all of this effort, Sacred Sea: A Journey to Lake Baikal, will be published later this year by Oxford University Press, after which he will once again have to get a real job.


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