Ever since former US president Bill Clinton tried an Icelandic hot dog from a historic hot dog stand in downtown Reykjavík, business there has been booming.
Bill Clinton, former US president got a lot of media coverage when he tried an Icelandic hot dog in 2004. The hot dog stand, known as Bæjarins beztu (Best in town) is only 7 square meters and has been run by the same family since 1937.
“My grandfather started this business and later my grandmother and father took over. I have been running it for 30 years now,” says Guðrún Kristmundsdóttir, owner of the Bæjarins beztu hot dog stand in Reykjavik.
“I am the third generation in the business and my son is the fourth, as he has now started working for the company. A similar kind of hot dog has been sold here for 78 years. We see no reason to reinvent the wheel,” says Guðrún who after taking control of the business started advertising the hot dog stand on Tryggvagata in foreign media.
“After Clinton had his hot dog, there was an explosion in sales and I have not needed advertising since. Maria Einarsdóttir, who has worked for me for a long time saw Clinton walking on the street and encouraged him to try one. ‘The best in the world,’ she told him. He got curious and all his security guards came over too,” says Guðrún.
In modern times, there is much focus on health food and some would say that a hot dog is not too healthy. “Everything is good in moderation. Besides, today’s hot dogs are much better quality than the ones in the old days. They are mostly made of lamb meat, also pork and beef. The key is to have only quality meat. The bread is made by a specialist bakery and an Icelandic company makes the ketchup. I feel our hot dogs are better than the ones in many other countries, but in America they also have good ways of making hot dogs as street food,” says Guðrún.
The hot dog stand in Tryggvagata is open 365 days of the year, come rain or shine and many famous visitors have tried it out, but Guðrún has a policy of being tight-lipped about who eats there. She feels all people are entitled to their privacy. She also believes everyone must stand in line, famous or not.“A lot of Japanese people visit us, and I remember a crew and a chef from a Japanese tuna boat that came by. They were so impressed that the chef bought a whole bunch of hot dogs so he could cook them on board on their way back to Japan. I think we’ve had customers from all over the world,” says Guðrún.