Way back in 1934, an enterprising, young Armenian-American street hot dog vendor in Chicago named Kasper Castigian, like a lot of people at the time, heeded the call to “go West, young man.” And so he did, bringing his own special brand of hot dogs to the fertile streets of Oakland. Business boomed, and soon his cousins showed up and followed suit. Before long, brick-and-mortar stores named Kasper’s began to spring, and an East Bay hot dog empire was born.
PK: I can understand why it’s difficult for you to comment. I can’t even remember the last time I put ketchup on a hot dog. And in Chicago, it’s sacrilegious to request ketchup on your hot dog.
PR: Yeah, I mean we didn’t offer ketchup until probably the '60s or '70s because the concept is that’s what the tomatoes are for. What do you need tomato paste, basically, on your hot dog when you have fresh tomatoes? That was probably one of the first things that got added after the four main ingredients. I imagine that was the first like, ‘Oh, all right. We’ll put ketchup in the stores.’ And then it went to cheese, and I will say that we still grate our own cheese in-house.
PK: That’s cool.