PATERSON, NJ — “One All the Way,” a new documentary by Paterson native David Baram, explores the history of one very New Jersey food.

The short film centers around a culinary delight that, despite its name, is most often found in and around Paterson.

“I probably had a hot Texas weiner every week of my life until I went away to college. And when I went away to college I was shocked to learn that no one knew what the heck a hot Texas weiner was,” Baram said.

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A hot Texas weiner “all the way” is a deep-fried hot dog served on a steamed chewy bun with hot mustard, onions and a “sauce” of bean-less chili.

“Each one of the grills really guards their secret sauce extraordinarily well,” Baram noted.

Baram’s father, Harry Baram, is an avid connoisseur of the hot Texas weiner. When David learned that his dad and two friends, Ron and Larry, were going on Texas weiner “crawls,” his daughter suggested they follow along.

The documentary, which follows the three to their favorite spots and delves into the stories of these independently owned grills, finished filming in January of 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Entwined in the hot dog’s story is the story of Paterson.

“You couldn't tell the history of the hot Texas weiner without telling the history of Paterson,” Baram said.

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“These were some of the first fast food restaurants in the country,” Baram explained. “In their own way they were really innovators.”

In the early 20th century, Paterson was one of the most important industrial cities in the United States, and with industry came immigrant laborers who needed to be fed.

The first grill to serve the hot Texas Weiner, in the 1910s, was run by John Petrellis, “a Greek immigrant who came up with the concoction,” Baram said.

The grills served factory shift workers day and night. But as industry moved away from Paterson, the number of grills serving the hot Texas weiner declined, too.

“It was pretty fascinating how the history of the hot Texas weiner, the history of the grills, is so directly tied to the history of the city of Paterson,” Baram said.

Hungry to learn more? “One All the Way” is being shown at film festivals and is currently available to watch through the virtual AmDocs Film Festival. Baram hopes that a streaming service will make it more widely available. A screening in Paterson is also on his wish list.

Watch the trailer: 

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