Tag Archives: state pride

“Three all the way and a coffee milk”: Rhode Island Hot Wieners


AG: “I’m from a little state called Rhode Island and there’s this dish, this cuisine called the Rhode Island Hot Weiner. It is not strictly related to Rhode Island to my knowledge, it’s kind of like an East Coast thing, like, New York, New Jersey as well. But Rhode Island has these very specific ones. There’s a bunch of different kinds you can get, there’s a bunch of different categories. There’s East side and West side wiener. I’m an East side wiener guy. There are some that are just disgusting. They don’t even call them wieners. If you go into Providence to get a hot wiener, they’re called gaggers because of how disgusting they are. I couldn’t even finish it; my dad took me to get gaggers one time and I was like, yeah, I can’t do this. 

The East side wieners. Basically, you’ve got a standard hot dog in a bun with celery salt, mustard, onions and meat sauce and it’s delicious. And there’s a very specific way you need to order them. You can’t just order one, you have to order three, and to order three with all the stuff on it, you say ‘let me get three all the way.’ But it doesn’t stop there. You have to also order what’s called a coffee milk, which is also something that’s very, strictly limited to Rhode Island. It’s milk with coffee syrup. I don’t like coffee; I do like coffee milk. So. the classic order, you go into any wiener joint in the state of Rhode Island, you say ‘let me get three all the way and a coffee milk.’ They know exactly what you want. ‘Coming right up,’ and they give it to you.”


The informant is a 20-year-old college student from Barrington, Rhode Island. He described Rhode Island Hot Wieners as a staple of his home state’s food culture, a source of rivalries, familial traditions, and regional pride. AG, his father, and his grandfather have a tradition of going to get hot wieners when he is home from school. AG’s grandfather prefers West side wieners—which are more like sausages in comparison to East side wieners, which are more like classic hot dogs– and frequents an iconic restaurant called Wienerama, famous for the way the server prepares the hot dogs in front of the guests by stacking around ten on his forearm and adding the accoutrements with his other hand. AG prefers East side wieners and favors the hot dogs served at a tiny diner called Rod’s in Warren, Rhode Island. Just as the man who prepares hot dogs at Wienerama has been working at the restaurant and using his same assembly method for decades, the owner of Rod’s has a similarly iconic status among the diner’s regulars. AG describes her as an old lady between the age of 90 and 100 who plays the same role at the restaurant that she did when AG’s grandfather went there in the 1970s. AG describes how the people who have worked there recognize his father and grandfather as patrons who have been going to the restaurant for decades.

         AG thinks of this food tradition as communicating state identity. He has a shirt that says, “Three all the way and a coffee milk.” Though non-Rhode Island natives tend to think hot wieners sound gross when he describes it to them, he says that when he’s taken friends to try them, they appreciate the tradition. “You’ve just gotta do it. It’s one of those things you can’t describe, you just have to experience it for yourself,” he said.


I think that the Rhode Island Hot Wiener and the tradition of ordering “three all the way and a coffee milk” is an emblem of state pride. This food tradition provides Rhode Islanders with a common experience to bond over. AG’s story shows how the food builds community—between his family, with other people from the state, and with the people who work at the restaurants where this food is served—and serves as an intimate familial ritual which brings together members of different generations. Moreover, allegiances to one type of hot dog or the other creates subcommunities, creating another social dimension to this tradition. 

The fact that people who are not from Rhode Island think that Hot Wieners are gross further strengthens this sense of community, where there are people who understand it and people who don’t, insiders and outsiders. However, the novelty of the food also provides Rhode Island natives with the opportunity to be arbiters of their culture, choosing to introduce people to the tradition, sharing a part of their identity.

The Victory Dance of the University of Texas Rowers

Main piece: When Texas [University of Texas] wins NCAA or they do well or something I think, they dance. They have this little, like, line dance kind of thing. They do this dance in their “unis”, so their rowing unisuits, they’re like leotards but for rowers, and then they have those on, plus these you know, standard cowboy boots. And they get these as part of the gear, so they get their rowing suits, their leggings, their shirts, and a pair of cowboy boots. So they’ll dance in those if they do well, onstage. And it’s kind of exciting, kind of entertaining, but sad if you’ve lost, which I guess is part of the fun. 

Background: KP is a sophomore coxswain for The Ohio State University rowing team. After coxing competitively in Maryland clubs for four years, she was recruited to cox at Ohio, which she has now done for two years. The Ohio State University rowers are currently ranked third in their region for rowing by the NCAA (though those rankings change frequently), but are Division 1. Texas, while not Ohio’s rival (which is Michigan), they are seen as “good” (according to KP), and a serious competitor. 

Context: A couple of months ago, I received a text from KP after a competition, who was upset that her team lost to Michigan. When I asked why, she explained that the loss is particularly “sad” when Michigan, Yale, or Texas wins; Texas because “they dance with their cowboy boots when they win. Which is kinda awesome but sad when they’re line dancing on a stage and you just have to look up at them in sadness.” When interviewing KP for the Archive about folklore in rowing (via Zoom, as she is still on campus in Ohio), I immediately asked her about this tradition. She had watched Texas do their victory dance at previous competitions. 

Analysis: Texas’s victory dance is a way to celebrate their (Texan) identity, distinguish themselves from other teams, bond with each other, and also glory in their victory in a semi-taunting way. The addition of cowboy boots to their uniform apparel, a stereotypical “cowboy” attire, is a way of representing the University of Texas and distinguishing them from the other teams, who are dressed in an otherwise similar way (it is important to note that while KP has only seen the Texas team perform this dance wearing cowboy boots, there have been videos posted online where they do the celebratory victory dance barefoot or wearing flip flops). While line dancing is not exclusive to Texas (and in fact its origins are believed to be from European folk dances), there is a connotation that line dancing today is accompanied by country/western music and performed by cowboys or ranch hands (i.e., working-class people). This is interesting because rowing itself has often been viewed as an elitist/classist niche sport, as it is an incredibly expensive endeavor in which to participate (in a later part of our discussion, KP refers to rowing as “classist” and “pretentious”). However, after further research, I discovered that the Texas team’s dance is often accompanied by the song “God Bless Texas”, so in this instance, the rowers choose to align their identity with state nationalism, and as an extension, their school (University of Texas is part of the State System, which is a governmental entity). Furthermore, the older rowers teach the incoming freshmen the dance. In a video I found online entitled “Texas Rowing Dance Tutorial”, the sophomore rowers were teaching the incoming athletes the dance. This practice would normally occur in person, but due to COVID, this rehearsal was done over Zoom, recorded, and posted to YouTube. The dance then also serves as a ritualistic bonding between members of the group and is perhaps even an incentive for them to practice harder in order to win so that they can then perform the dance in front of an audience. Finally, KP found the dance to be “sad if you’ve lost, but I guess that’s part of the fun”. Historically, victory dances have been used to both celebrate a victory and antagonize the losing participants. KP finding the dance sad, so much so that she believes that losing to Texas to be a particularly upsetting loss, shows that the victory dance is also used to make their fellow competitors feel lower, therefore elevating themselves. The dance is performed on a stage during the handing out of awards; all of the teams are required to stay there and watch. The practice of line dancing by the University of Texas rowing team therefore serves to show both state and team superiority over their competitors.



Isabella Estrada is studying history at the University of Southern California. She is graduating this year and is in the process of applying to/hearing back from law schools. This was clearly on her mind as the first piece of folklore she gave me dealt with law school applications. She was born and raised in Torrance, California.


Isabella: So, uh, as a native from Southern California, we’re pretty much hip to all the California…uh, terms, terminology, anyway. It was always a joke growing up that you could tell a foreigner based on whether or not they said “Cali” to refer to California because no Californian would ever refer to our state as “Cali.”


Firstly, Isabella shows pride in being from California. This is something many people do with their state, but it especially makes sense in California, a state with so many non-natives, including myself, for example. She expressed a vague superiority in knowing how to talk about her state, and how to spot out those who don’t belong. Many communities do this. For example, I once referred to a New York restaurant as “The Talkhouse,” only to be laughed at by New Yorkers who told me, “we just call it ‘Talkhouse.'” Simple uses of language can often draw attention to a visitor or immigrant.