Wednesday, Feb. 22 marked the 90th anniversary for Ted’s Hot Dogs. To celebrate the occasion, the nine locations throughout Western New York sold hot dogs for 90 cents to represent the longtime success of the business.
When I heard about this special day, I realized I know nothing about the business besides what’s on the menu. I’ve lived in Buffalo all my life, yet never thought to learn more about my favorite place to go for lunch when I don’t have the convenience, or the patience, to cook on a grill.
Surprisingly, Ted’s Hot Dogs, originally named Ted’s Red Hots, was started by a Greek immigrant named Theodore Spiro Liaros when he came to America in 1913.
“Ted’s Story” on Ted’s Hot Dogs website discusses how Theodore, “Ted”, came to America without any money or the ability to speak the English language. The business started up as a horse drawn hot dog carriage that Ted operated on the West Side of Buffalo, near the construction site of the Peace Bridge.
At the time, a woman sold sandwiches to construction workers of the Peace Bridge out of a tiny tool shed. Once the project was completed in 1927, she sold the shack to Ted for $100. This seems like a small price to pay today, but to Ted this was a big investment risk for a struggling immigrant, as “Ted’s Story” explains. But, Ted committed to the investment and opened his first Ted’s Red Hots on Massachusetts Avenue under the newly developed Peace Bridge.
Prices of the delicious hot dogs in the 1920’s are a big difference compared to the prices paid today. “Back then, you could get a hot dog and drink for $0.22. No sales tax, no cash registers. We just served the food and kept the money in cigar boxes,” Ted’s son Spiro explains in “Ted’s Story”. This makes a big difference compared to the price of $4.39, excluding tax, paid today for a regular-sized hot dog and fountain drink. However, the varieties of grill-items, drinks, sides and toppings make it all worth the price.
As the business began to bloom, more items were added to the basic menu of hot dogs, homemade onion rings and freshly made milkshakes.
In 1948, Ted opened a second location on Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda, only 10 minutes away from Daemen College. Although multiple locations have continued to develop throughout Western New York, Sheridan Drive’s location is an important landmark to Ted Spiro’s family, as discussed in “Ted’s Story”.
Now that I’ve filled your brain with fun facts, and possibly made you hungry, drive over to a Ted’s Hot Dogs location nearest you and spread the news about this 90-year-old business!