Chili half-smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl
|Place of origin||United States|
|Region or state||Washington, D.C.|
|Main ingredient(s)||Pork, beef|
A half-smoke is a "local sausage delicacy" found in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding region. Similar to a hot dog, but usually larger, spicier, and with more coarsely-ground meat, the sausage is often half-pork and half-beef, smoked, and served with a bevy of herbs, onion, and chili sauce.
 Ingredients and preparation
Though the etymology of "half-smoke" possibly comes from the original half-pork, half-beef composition, the ingredients and smoked method of preparation,[original research?] vary by brand and some brands even make more than one kind. A half-smoke can be 50% pork, 50% beef or 100% beef or anywhere in between; it can be steamed instead of smoked. Another possible explanation is that the texture and flavor is half way between smoked sausage and a regular hotdog. Yet another explanation is that it refers to many cooks cutting the sausage in half when grilling. In any case, the products sold under the name generally have a genuine or artificial smoke flavoring and coarser texture than a regular hotdog and are the key features that distinguish. 
The "original" half-smoke is considered to be the sausage distributed by D.C.'s Briggs and Co. meatpackers, originating in around 1950, though Raymond Briggs started selling his half-smokes circa 1930. Eventually Briggs was sold to another meat distributor, where, by some accounts, the quality of the meat eroded.
Numerous hot dog carts in Washington, D.C. sell steamed half-smokes, with those on Constitution Avenue catering to tourists and those on Pennsylvania Avenue serving federal employees and many other hot dog carts throughout the downtown area. Half-smokes are the "official dog" of the Washington Nationals. The most prominent location is often cited as Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington's U Street neighborhood, which gained widespread exposure when visited by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Another popular location for half-smokes is the Weenie Beenie in South Arlington located near the W&OD trail. Founded in 1950, it pre-dates Ben's Chili Bowl and is the inspiration behind the Foo Fighters song "Weenie Beenie".
 Notes and references
- Carr, David (2009-01-16). "A Monument to Munchies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- "Look No Further! The Thrilling End Of The Grueling Search For A Washington Dish". The Washington Post. 2000-10-08. p. W26. Retrieved 2008-01-09.