Wasses Hot Dogs

The thing about Wasses Hot Dogs in Rockland, that you’ll never gain an understanding of from reading a review, is that smell. On warm days, the scent of grilling onions permeates the whole neighborhood, from the ferry terminal to the South, to the Cumberland Farms around the corner to the north. It crawls in through your air conditioning vents, it gets in your hair, and it gets under your skin. And it is heavenly.

The secret of Wasses’ 30-year success? It’s peanut oil. It’s frying every living thing you can think of in peanut oil. They use exceptionally high-quality links, with a satisfying snap to the casing, and nestle them in traditional New England split-side steamed buns. A sign clearly explains that asking for a hot dog with “everything” only gets you mustard and grilled onions, forcing you to somewhat painfully order your dogs with “everything and ketchup.” Next time, we want to try them plain, with no toppings, as they are delicious enough, we think, to stand on their own. If bareback hot dogs aren’t your thing, I am also a fairly recent convert to the “Western Dog,” which tops a hot dog with bacon, grilled onions, ketchup, and a heap of baked beans. It’s like a bean supper on a bun, and it is remarkable.

The fries are safe to skip; they are unremarkable frozen krinkle-cuts, and besides, fries just take up space that could be otherwise occupied by another hot dog. A better pairing is with a tiny carton of Oakhurst Dairy chocolate milk, or a homemade Rice Krispie treat.

At around two dollars per hot dog, Wasses represents a great value for anyone passing through the Midcoast. Have a lobster, certainly, but make sure to leave time to stop and infuse the inside of your car with that Wasses smell the next time you are passing through Rockland. Try them once, and you’ll have a friend for life.

Wasses Hot Dogs: 2 N Main St, Rockland, ME 04841. Facebook.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as Brocavore, a blog focusing on street food culture, and the junk food-centric "Spork & Barrel." His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.


  1. I grew up in a small town that practically neighbors Rockland, and you’re right – while the hot dogs are great and the Western Dog is even better, the most remarkable thing about Wasses is the smell, which is impossible to communicate to people that haven’t been.

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  2. I am currently looking at the March Downeast magazine and noticed your review on Wasses was mentioned and had to come check it out. I really enjoy your blog and most always agree with your reviews. Although I’m really not a hot dog fan my husband is and we have made many stops at Wasses. They may have converted me.

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    1. Wow! We had no idea we were even mentioned. Thank you for tipping us, Laurie! And yes, you’re right…the hot dogs at Wasses will make a believer out of anyone. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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  3. Wasses. Is. Amazing! I love stopping there for a quick snack whenever I’m in the area. Make sure you walk around the corner to The Brown Bag and snatch up a “Gobbler” on toasted bread. Yum! And the bakery has a lot of awesome goodies too =]

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  4. I just saw your piece on Visit Maine on our AT & T Uverse here in Florida. I am from Thomaston originally and my first stop going home is Wasses and then to see family. I have a whole food must have list. I don’t see Willow Street Bakery on your donut list though.

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