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5 Minutes with Wayne Rosenbaum, aka The Papaya King

In New York City, the food is just as iconic as the landmarks. When it comes to enjoying a classic New York hot dog, Papaya King combines both – delicious dogs and a historic location (there for more than 80 years!) on the Upper East Side.

We grabbed a few minutes with Wayne Rosenbaum, the president of Papaya King. He let us in on how the hot dog joint has stayed in business for more than 80 years, what made them get in the food truck game and how we can create the perfect hot dog using pickles and curly fries (seriously). 


Q: So tell us about the name Papaya King; why is a hot dog restaurant named after a tropical fruit?

A: Papaya King started in 1932 as "Hawaiian Tropical Drinks: The King of All Drinks." Back then, it only served tropical drinks, mainly papaya. In the late 1930s, they started to serve grilled frankfurters to satisfy hungry patrons. By the late '50s, it became the Papaya King we know today.


Q: What makes Papaya King so iconic in New York City?

A: Papaya King was the first to pair grilled frankfurters and tropical drinks, and its been on the same corner since 1932!


Q: How does Papaya King stand out from the hot dog vendors we see on every street corner?

A: All of our franks are grilled, and all the buns are toasted. No dirty water dogs here!


Q: What is a classic New York hot dog? The dog, the toppings, etc? 

A: Our classic New York City dog is the famous Home Run Complete. The toppings are: sauerkraut, New York Pushcart Onions and our famous Spicy Brown Mustard


Q: Tell us about the Papaya King food truck. What prompted you to get in the food truck game?

A: We chose to do a food truck for several reasons. For starters, the rents of a traditional brick and mortar retail space just keep getting higher and higher. We can also make money with the truck from private events. People can rent the truck for a period of time for their parties, which is great for busicness. And finally, having the truck is a great marketing tool. We take it to different locations all around the city, and it's been a great test market run.


Q: Where can we find the Papaya King food truck in the city?

A: The food truck will operate in several different locations all around the city, so be sure to follow @papayakingtruck on Twitter. We tweet out our locations daily.


Q: What are some of your favorite topping combos?

A: My favorites include: The Side on Top, which is chili, cheese and curly fries. The Upper East, which is sauerkraut, pastrami and sweet pickles. I also like the Hula Hula, with pineapple, relish, jalapenos and peppers.


Q: What's a topping combination that people might find strange, but is actually delicious?

A: The Hula Hula. It's got all you need; it's sweet from the pineapple, and salty and spicy from jalapenos and peppers.


Q: Which of your tropical juices goes best with a classic New York-style hot dog?

A: Papaya drink! 


Q: If you could only have one Papaya King meal for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

A: Royal Deluxe Combo: Two dogs with kraut and NY onions, tater tots on the side and of course, a papaya drink.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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