At the heart of the McGill campus, right in the midst of the Y-intersection, is a staple of the McGill community: the hot dog stand. When the weather is warm, students can count on the hot dog stand to be out. This hotspot on campus is rarely seen without a lineup of eager students.
The McGill hot dog stand first rolled onto campus in 1996. The stand operated until 2003-04, when Compass took over food services on campus, monopolizing food on campus and shutting down the hot dog stand. In 2018, the original hot dog stand returned, now a father-son duo running the business. Today, Claude and his son Mathieu run the hot dog stand; however, this will be Claude’s last season before he hands the business over to his son next year.
In an interview with the Bull and Bear, Claude shared that their motto for the hot dog stand is “Customers first, McGill second, and we’re last.” They prioritize their customers by offering a wide variety of toppings, ensuring they serve high-quality food, and trying to keep prices as low as possible, despite the rising costs of their raw materials which Claude shared have “gone up at least 50%…in three years.”
Students at McGill are aware of the importance of the hot dog stand’s presence. After an academically challenging and terribly cold winter, we can all remember the day we felt that spring may be near, signalled by its appearance. If hot dogs are being sold, then warmer weather is just around the corner.
There is a significant meaning to this McGill symbol; we recognize the cart as part of our internal McGill community, as we take part of an even wider Montreal culture. The cart’s importance was even studied in ANTH 202 last semester, where the ‘hot dog guy’ was recognized as a prominent McGill symbol, in a class devoted to learning the anthropological exploration of society and culture! The stand is an example of the organic development of a symbol, here at McGill, as our community is involved in its daily interactions.
Looking closely at the activities that surround the stand, there is more to see than what meets the eye. To observe this situation through an anthropological viewpoint, as studied in class with Professor Wald, we can infer many things about the culture at McGill. At the stand, the rushing of the orders, the fast paced line, and the repetitive tapping atop the card readers symbolizes rushed students and their busy schedules.
Claude describes that “it’s hard work but a routine,” stemming from working on a university campus with that consistent flow of students who line up at the same rush hours. This detail may seem obvious to those who glance at the stand everyday, but to an outsider looking in, it’s quite remarkable how unspoken the understanding of the stand’s presence is. As the food is quickly ready to be served, the nerves of being late for a class or needing to get to work are relieved.
The stand may not appear as anything significant other than a quick way to get lunch, but it represents the beginning of spring and the fast-paced lives of McGill students. The activity at the stand continues to remain a symbol of our internal McGill community.
The Bull and Bear asked McGill students their thoughts on the hot dog stand on campus and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. U1 Math student Ben Merbaum shared that the hot dog stand “creates a sense of community on campus” and can be “count[ed] on for good quality at an affordable cost.” Additionally, Merbaum said that “every hot dog served puts a smile on a student’s face.” Adding on to the anthropological viewpoint of seeing the hot dog stand as a symbol of McGill’s our fast-paced community, Sarah Abdul Karim, a U1 Science student has a similar opinion to share. Sarah says, “when in need of food during my short break, the hot dog stand is the perfect fast solution!”
The love students have for the ‘hot dog man’ is mutual. Upon being asked how he feels about having a customer base of university students, Claude quickly replied, “It’s terrific!” The Hot dog stand has unknowingly become an important symbol of our community at McGill. Spring is here, and so is the ‘hot dog guy,’ and McGill students can now return to enjoying a hot dog in the warm weather.