Papaya Hot Dog Stands


I'm really interested in regional culinary phenomena. (For instance, I recently discovered 'beef on weck' in Buffalo, NY-a delicious sandwich that absolutely everyone in Buffalo is familiar with, and just about nobody outside of Buffalo has ever heard of.) Anyway, when I moved to New York City, I noticed that there were tons of places that sold only two things: hot dogs and sweetened juices. The juices were all of the tropical variety, and they were dispensed from these big vats in the back. As far as I know, this phenomena is unique to New York. Also, every one of these places had the word "Papaya" in their names. So what's the story?

Back in the 1930's, a guy named Gus Poulos opened a juice stand on 86th St. in Yorkville, a neighborhood on the Upper East Side. Eventually the store name was changed to "Papaya King".

Yorkville was heavily German and Polish at the time, and Gus, a Greek immigrant, eventually started serving a favorite local dish: frankfurters. Papaya King was the first of many Papaya hot dog stands in the city, and it's still in its original location today

Many other Papayas soon opened, following the same model, here are just a few:
You can learn more about Papaya King history here:

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