Generally, voting early and often is considered bad form. But at Franktuary, a Downtown church-basement hot-dog joint, folks hungry to weigh in for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can do so every lunch break, if they like.
The shop's been conducting a daily straw poll since March 31: People hungry for new Democratic leadership can order a Barackwurst, with a half-link of knockwurst and a half-link of bratwurst, garnished with crumbled blue tortilla chips, grape tomatoes and creamy white horseradish sauce. Or, they can have a Hillbasa, featuring kielbasa topped with the same chips and tomatoes, plus crumbled feta.
Daily sales totals are tallied on www.sausagepoll.com. Most days Obama comes out ahead, though it's tough to say whether that's attributable to a preference for the Illinois senator or a liking for spicy horseradish. At press time, the Barackwurst was ahead, 23 to 16.
Both patriotically topped red-white-and-blue sandwiches come with a side of locally bottled Pennsylvania Punch. The Hillbasa comes with "a mandated side of Bill pickles" while the Barackwurst comes with "whatever one hopes." Both combos cost $7.
While neither candidate has yet accepted the shop's standing invitation to sample themselves in tubular-meat form, the gimmick is attracting new diners. Says Megan Lindsey, co-owner of Franktuary: "It's bringing in a lot of passionate political types."
In fact, there was even a customer who bulk-bought six Hillbasas hoping to wipe out that day's projected Barackwurst lead. In another harbinger of this super-close contest, the day's last customer ordered Barackwursts -- and tipped the scales.
It's been surprising, says Lindsey, to see regular customers whose political leanings she thought she could guess reveal themselves in their sandwich choices. And folks seem loathe to order on taste alone: Clinton supporters, she says, who don't actually like kielbasa "find themselves unable to order the Barackwurst."
Customers who aren't fans of meat can participate in other ways: Both sandwiches can be ordered with the shop's tasty veggie dogs, and still count toward the total. Or if it's dessert you're after, try a "Rocky Road to the White House Cherry" sundae.
After April 22, the store will knock the Democratic Pennsylvania primary loser off the menu (though if you ask nicely, they'll still make it for you) and will add the Hot McCainine, served with a side of Bush's Baked Beans. That sausage sandwich will be spicy, explains Lindsey, "because of [John McCain's] legendary temper."
325 Oliver Ave., Downtown.