Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur: A sausage above the rest
Text: Signe Hansen | Photos: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
S elected by The Guardian in 2006 as Europe’s best hotdog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (‘the Town’s Best Sausages’) in Reykjavík has become an attraction in its own right. More than 80 years old, the hotdog business is run by the granddaughter and great-grandson of its original founder, and despite competition from many new fast-food trends, it is still a sausage above the rest.
Founded by Jón Sveinsson, Baldur Ingi Halldórsson’s great-grandfather, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur has been a treasured part of Reykjavík for more than 80 years. However, when, in 2004, the former US president Bill Clinton was photographed enjoying one of the stand’s trademark lamb and pork sausages, the hotdog’s fame was catapulted to new levels. “I don’t think he was even intending to stop, but Maja, our oldest employee, who worked with us for 45 years, just hollered him over and offered him a hotdog,” says Halldórsson, who co-owns the business with his mother, Guðrún Björk Kristmundsdóttir.
Since then, the stand has been visited by various other famous people, from James Hetfield, the lead singer of the heavy metal band Metallica, to reality TV star Kim Kardashian. Today, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur has stands in five different locations in Reykjavik, and whereas the downtown stand has become a bit of a tourist attraction, the other four still mainly serve a loyal, local clientele.
So, what is it that makes the hotdogs so good that locals, foreign visitors, and celebrities all flock to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur? “There are a lot of rumours about what’s behind the taste – that it’s something we put in the water and so on, but the truth is that we just take hotdogs really seriously,” explains Halldórsson. “Our bread is made with a private recipe that only we have, and we keep everything as fresh as possible; the hotdog is just the right temperature and the bread is steamed to make it super soft.”
However, even with an outstandingly good recipe, some might be surprised to learn that many Icelandic people still prefer a hotdog to other fast-food trends. But though Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur has been around for long, its popularity does not seem to be waning, and the owner himself is living proof of why. “People still like hotdogs. It’s such a nice food to drop by and grab,” he says, and rounds off: “I’ve pretty much been raised in the stand and been in the business my whole life, and I still go and eat a hotdog – I still crave it.”
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